Hanna Mass began working as an OrACORe research assistant in the summer of 2021 after…
6 QUESTIONS FOR FIRST-YEAR RESEARCH ASSISTANTS: LAUREN MITCHELL
Lauren began working at OrACORe in June 2022 after graduating from Tufts University with a degree in Biology and Community Health. While an undergrad, Lauren did research out of Tufts Medical School that studied the importance of familial interactions at mealtimes and how these interpersonal relationships affect behavior. A summer position took her to Thermo Fisher Scientific where she partnered with their regulatory affairs team helping maintain the regulatory materials for their clinical diagnostics division. In Fall of 2021, Lauren worked on MGH’s C-CAT Initiative. The program’s mission was to reduce 30-day patient remission rates by pairing patients with community health workers to ease the transition from the hospital to home. While at Tufts, Lauren was also a member of the Tufts Women Club Soccer team and served on the executive board of a tutoring club.
1. What about this research position attracted you to it?
I was initially drawn to this position because of its engaging work in a collaborative environment. After college, I was looking for opportunities to work directly with different health professionals, including biostatisticians, physicians, and data scientists. Becoming an OrACORe RA would provide exposure to these different fields so that I could be better informed regarding what I wanted to do going forward. I also was attracted to the fact that it is a two-year position and that there were many RAs working on multiple projects. Other positions I considered were solitary with a singular focus and less collaborative. I appreciate both the people and the variety of studies I work on as they keep my day-to-day job very interesting. Finally, I was interested in staying in Boston for a couple more years because it is such a great town!
2. What’s a typical week on the job for you?
A typical week for me involves balancing time between the many studies and duties I have. I currently work on 5 studies (MeTeOR, KArAT, TeMPO, FraPol, and OAPol) and I am also the social media manager, all of which keep my days full. In a given week, I will recruit participants and perform study visits for MeTeOR, while also helping clean data for TeMPO. For our modeling projects, FraPol and OAPol, I perform literature reviews to ensure that our data are up to date. For KArAT, I am becoming certified in health coaching so that I can work with our study subjects when we start enrolling in 2023. As for social media, I write tweets weekly and help maintain our website. All in all, in the span of one week I will likely touch on each of these responsibilities in some way or another.
3. What do you like most about being a research assistant at OrACORe?
I quite enjoy my job, which makes it hard to identify just one aspect that I like best. For one, I really enjoy the trust that others have in me and the amount of responsibility that I was given early in the position. From the start, I felt that I was making a meaningful contribution to all the studies where I was assigned despite not having spent much time in the field. I appreciate that the team trusts me to do the work which in turn makes me feel more confident in my abilities. The other amazing perk of the job is the workplace environment. While engaging and thought-provoking, it has also been incredibly friendly and understanding. My coworkers make my workday enjoyable and lively.
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?
Over the past couple of months, I’ve learned about the importance and impact research can have on clinical practice. In school, I learned a lot about how different drugs have been phased in and out of practice, but I had very little exposure to orthopaedics and physical interventions, such as surgery, physical therapy, and corticosteroid injections. Since starting, I have learned that MeTeOR, now in its 13th follow-up year, has contributed useful findings that have changed clinical practice in orthopaedic medicine. In the past, arthroscopic partial meniscectomy (APM) was the standard, first-line method for treating a meniscal tear in the knee. Now, the more accepted process is to treat first with physical therapy rather than surgery. These changes can be attributed in part to the findings of the initial MeTeOR study, which was very interesting to learn and enhanced the meaning I find in the work I am doing with the follow-up study.
5. What are your plans post-OrACORe?
After OrACORe I hope to attend medical school starting in Fall 2024. Although I do not know what kind of doctor I want to be, I do know that I want to incorporate research into my practice.
6. What makes you laugh the most these days?
These days I find myself laughing quite often for a variety of reasons. For one, the conversations my coworkers and I have in between our responsibilities at work are always sources of amusement ranging from pop culture news to hearing about people’s days. Another source of amusement outside of work is my family who keeps me humble and laughing whenever I talk to them. But most of all, someone who never fails to make me laugh is my dog Lily who is both curious and cuddly and whom I miss dearly when I am in Boston.