Immersion Phase Update: Research (1/6/15 – 3/27/15)

I kicked off Immersion Phase with 3 months of research.  I chose a faculty member in the informatics department as my mentor.  I worked on several projects over the course of this rotation.  

For one project, I worked with a few other students to analyze 3000 messages from the hospital’s patient portal.  We used a consumer health needs taxonomy, essentially a list of distinct medical, logistical, and clinical knowledge needs, to categorize parts of each message by entering this information into a huge spreadsheet.  This required a considerable amount of hours to meet as a group and discuss the content we had independently categorized; I actually didn’t finish working on it with the other students until mid-April when I was already off research.  A smaller related project dealt with unanswered questions written by pregnant women in journals during their pregnancies.

A second project looked at the information needs of pregnant women and their caregivers through interviews and surveys and analyzing the resulting materials.  After observing a few of these research visits I was able to lead them myself.  I also de identified the transcripts for several of the interviews using HIPAA guidelines and analyzed a few of them using the same taxonomy as the first projects.

My third project was kind of my “baby” versus the others that I had merely been added on to.  This project was centered on a pediatric consultation service for health information technologies–anything from websites to phone apps that could be used to manage patient care.  We wanted to see if talking to patients/families and offering them resources would have an effect on their level of engagement in their care.  It took 2 months for this project to be approved by the International Review Board, which was quite frustrating, but it was still nice to be able to do “trial runs” of this service and talk to parents and family members who found it useful and worthwhile to study.  I even attempted to use the concept for a concurrent quality improvement class I was taking.

All told,  I really took too much on in these 3 months.  This rotation was definitely a lesson in standing up for myself and learning how to say no–a lesson that I sill have yet to master.  I had expected to be less overcome by stress in these months, but honestly I felt the pressure of the work.  If I could do it over again I’d figure out a way to do less.

In addition to all of this, I was finally able to think seriously about my future career as a doctor.  After meeting with various providers and spending some time contemplating, discussing, and praying, I decided to choose psychiatry over pediatrics.  Even though I am interested in both, I feel that the former will be more fulfilling to me in the long run and will allow me to pursue “lifelong learning” instead of just throwing the term around.  Feel free to ask me about this decision!

Other fun things I did included potlucks with the girls’ Bible study group, the second annual Dr. Vanderbilt Pageant at which I sang, danced, and served as a “hype girl” for one of the faculty contestants performing an individual rap, the 4th year match day where we (and they) found out where they would be doing their various residency programs, a dance performance at Cadaver Ball, an a cappella performance at second look weekend (in our new Radial Grooves custom scrub tops!), an Odesza concert with a friend from church (now obsessed with both them and Big Wild who opened the show), and much more!

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