The Year-Out Experience: A Year of Research through the Doris Duke Clinical Research Mentorship
Due to my interest in research as a career, I decided to pursue a year-out from medical school to gain necessary research skills to be successful as a clinical researcher. I was fortunate enough to have found a mentor in Dr. DeBaun, who has extensive research and mentorship experience in sickle cell disease. By doing a 3-month research immersion during my third year of medical school, I was able to not only gather preliminary data to support my grant proposal, but also craft my application and research proposal through the support of the lab to three separate grants to complete a year of research. While I was awarded all three grants, I decided to accept the Doris Duke Clinical Research Mentorship grant.
Since starting my year of research in June 2017, I have been not only exposed to many areas of research but have had an active part in carrying out each component. I’ve been able to administer surveys in clinics and inpatient wards, conduct focus groups with women with sickle cell disease, and perform ELISA assays to study the underlying biology of a phenomenon. This multi-disciplinary approach to solving clinical problems has shown me that each area of research is a book, and each study investigating a phenomenon further is only a chapter that contributes to the bigger picture.
I have been fortunate enough to present my research at the American Society of Hematology and Pediatric Academic Societies annual meetings as posters, as well as the annual Doris Duke Clinical Research Mentorship meeting as an oral presentation. I am now attending the Johns Hopkins University Graduate Summer Institute in Biostatistics and Epidemiology through the Bloomberg School of Public Health in order to gain skills in statistical analysis that I hope to apply toward my research findings, as well as exposure to the field of epidemiology, as I hope to become a pediatric infectious disease specialist and this area is an integral part of exploring outbreaks and epidemics. I have been incredibly grateful for this opportunity to meet people from around the world at this institute and actively engage in these classes, which have inspired me to obtain an MPH degree later on.
In summary, this year-out experience has been incredibly rewarding and humbling, as I have given women with sickle cell disease a voice to have their women’s health concerns heard. Having the opportunities to learn different methods of research as well as statistical analyses and epidemiological studies will serve me well as a future pediatric infectious disease specialist. My lab was extremely supportive throughout my year, always encouraging me to think critically about problems our patients face. I am truly thankful for their commitment to helping me succeed and grow this past year.