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This summer BWH’s Emergency Department welcomes 25 students from area colleges into its Clinical Research Assistant Program. The program, now in its third year, offers pre-med students the opportunity to help conduct clinical research studies, many of which are survey based.
“What’s great about volunteering in the ED is that the research assistants see all the different areas of medicine,” said Jennifer Morrissey, MSN, CRNP, research program manager, Emergency Department. “It allows people in the very beginning of their careers to experience the world of medicine first hand.” In addition to helping with five ongoing studies this summer, research assistants have the opportunity to shadow a physician and attend talks on clinical research.
At the start of the program, the research assistants undergo a one-day clinical orientation program to familiarize themselves with the ED and also receive training in BWH’s protocols for protection of human subjects.
Last year Morrissey spoke at college campuses to recruit students, with much success. As a result, this year the program attracted many students who heard about it through word of mouth or from their college’s career center. “I feel the draw of our program is that the research assistants are able to spend time with real patients in an actual clinical setting,” said Morrissey.
“It’s really helpful to know how to approach patients,” agreed Nupur Jhawar, a clinical research assistant and a junior at Bowdoin College. “You pick up lots of little things that you don’t learn in class. Interacting with patients is definitely the best part of volunteering as a research assistant.”