Mike Clarke: “I needed to get a proper job in 1989.”

January 1, 2016

Professor Mike Clarke

Professor Mike Clarke

Professor Mike Clarke is Director of the All Ireland Hub for Trials Methodology Research. He is also Module Co-ordinator for Randomized Controlled Trials; and Systematic Reviews.

Why did you get into EBM?

I needed to get a proper job in 1989, after so many years of being a student. I then realised that I wanted to try and improve health and well-being, without the challenges of being a nurse, midwife, doctor, etc.

What do you feel has made the most difference in EBM?

Recognition of the value of systematic reviews of randomised trials, but there is still a long way to go. I don’t think enough is being done to make new practitioners ask about the evidence when they are faced with “expertise” and opinion; and randomised trials need to become so much part of practice that they are the standard way of dealing with uncertainty and making choices.

Describe your approach in three words.

Collaboration, curiosity, nomadic.

What do you like most about teaching?

When it is obvious that someone has learned something they did not know; for example, when they excitedly make a note of something that has just been discussed in the session.

Do you have any regrets about becoming a doctor?

I don’t regret not becoming a medical doctor, and I don’t regret becoming a DPhil or, technically, being granted leave to supplicate to become a DPhil (when I get around to it after 20+ years).

What has been your most innovative piece of teaching?

The use of “magic” in my multiplicity and subgroups lecture, and the “coffee shop” assignment for second year student midwives.

If you weren’t a doctor/teacher what would you be doing instead?


What do you find hardest when teaching?

Remembering the names and faces of people I have met and taught.

If you were given £1 million for research, what would you do?

Underpin key infrastructure such as COMET and EQUATOR. I would not want to throw more money into the big enough pot that already exists for new studies, when funding for these basics is so difficult to get; and when investment in them would yield much higher returns for the quality of research generally. 

For more interviews in this series, please click here.

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