Cathy joined OrACORe in July 2022 after graduating from Wellesley College with a degree in…
6 QUESTIONS FOR FIRST-YEAR RESEARCH ASSISTANTS: CLAIRE MCHUGH
This is the third and last in a series of interviews we are conducting with each of our first-year research assistants about their OrACORe experience so far.
Claire started at OrACORe in July 2020 after graduating from Northeastern University with a BS in Biology and a minor in Political Science. In the spring of 2018, she participated in her first co-op at Boston Children’s Hospital, enrolling patients in a clinical research study of rare genetic diseases. Her second co-op was with the Andermann lab at Harvard Medical School in the fall of 2019, where she studied the neurological basis for mating drive in rodents. During her senior year, Claire was a TA for General Biology I lab. Outside of school, Claire was the Managing Editor of the Northeastern University Political Review her junior year, and volunteered as a tour guide at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and as a Crisis Counselor for the Crisis Text Line.
1. What about this research position attracted you to it?
I knew that I wanted to work in clinical research after graduating, but I also became extremely interested in health policy through the course work I took for my minor in political science. This job seemed to combine both of my interests in an exciting way, which motivated me to apply. Once I saw how passionate everyone at OrACORe is about their work and how welcoming the environment is, I knew that this was the job I wanted to be doing.
2. What’s a typical week on the job for you?
I usually spend around two days a week working on Osteoarthritis Policy Model (OAPol) projects, with the other days dedicated to coordinating our upcoming 12-year follow-up as part of the MeTeOR study and performing participant visits for ORBIT. Currently, I’m working on background research for an upcoming OAPol project involving the use of telemedicine in the management of osteoarthritis. I like that as RAs, we perform a diverse set of tasks. This makes no two days feel the same and I always feel as though I am learning something new.
3. What do you like most about being a research assistant at OrACORe?
I love the wide range of research opportunities at OrACORe. Because of this, I have learned about health policy and how choices are made about the best courses of treatment through OAPol, how persons with osteoarthritis present clinically through performing musculoskeletal exams for ORBIT, and about how human subjects are protected in clinical research through the Institutional Review Board approval process for MeTeOR. My experience, so far, has been well-rounded and I have learned a lot in a short time.
4. What’s one thing you’ve learned in the past month here that either changed the way you understand health care or influenced you in some other way?
Through Investigators’ Calls with our collaborators around the world for the OAPol and MeTeOR projects, I’ve learned just how much thought goes into the decisions we make and data we collect. Every question we ask participants and assessment we perform is chosen in a really mindful way. For example, I have participated in long discussions about the wording on a questionnaire or how a specific aspect of a treatment regimen should be modeled in OAPol. We are always evolving and striving to be as accurate and precise as possible, so as to capture the clearest picture we can.
5. What are your plans post-OrACORe?
I’m planning to apply to medical school next year, to matriculate in 2022. I’m studying for the MCAT now and I’m in the process of preparing my application. I’m not sure what specialty I want to pursue, but I am certain that I will incorporate clinical research into my career in some way.
6. How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect your experience starting at OrACORe?
We definitely did not have the typical first day (or few months!) of work, but everyone put in a lot of effort to make the process as smooth as possible. The amount of preparation the second year research assistants put into creating training materials for us exceeded my expectations, and overall I couldn’t have asked for a better experience given the circumstances. Everyone made us feel like we are part of the community and this warm welcome was really appreciated.