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What is the difference between OrACORe and PIVOT?

OrACORe (The Orthopaedic and Arthritis Center for Outcomes Research) and PIVOT (The Policy and Innovation eValuation in Orthopaedic Treatments Center) work together closely and share many of the same personnel. In fact, most research assistants work on OrACORe and PIVOT projects simultaneously!

There are two main differences between OrACORe and PIVOT. One is funding source, as OrACORe and PIVOT utilize different grants. A second is data collection. Most PIVOT projects use existing data, such as what can be found in published manuscripts. Primary data collection is not part of PIVOT projects. OrACORe projects, however, often involve direct data collection, either through surveys or participant contact.

Research assistant applicants need not worry about the distinction between OrACORe and PIVOT, other than to know which projects they might be interested in joining. OrACORe projects include INFORM, MeTeOR, ORBIT, SHielD, STrIDeS, TeMPO, and TOPS, while PIVOT projects include OAPol and AViKA.

Is prior research experience required?

No! Prior research experience is not required.

We’re looking for team players who are ready and excited to learn about and contribute to important musculoskeletal research. If you feel you fit this description, we encourage you to apply. Our application review process is holistic — we recognize that there is no single path to becoming a strong research assistant!

What training is provided to new research assistants?

We structure the first few months of our research assistant program around training. We hire individuals with a wide range of research experience and do our best to ensure that everyone is ready and able to fulfill their responsibilities by the end of training. Depending on the projects, training may look very different. For instance, training for MeTeOR, ORBIT, and TeMPO includes learning how to conduct a musculoskeletal exam and interact with study participants whereas OAPol training focuses on building a technical understanding of our computer model and how we use it. Nonetheless, all of our research assistants are exposed to fundamental material in research ethics, scientific methodologies, orthopaedic conditions, and more!

Do research assistants get to pick the projects to which they’ll be assigned?

Research assistants don’t directly choose which projects they’ll be working on, but their interests and strengths are certainly taken into account! Other important factors considered include how much work is left to be done on a project, how many other research assistants are already working on a project, and how many responsibilities each research assistant is juggling. Ultimately, though, we want our research assistants to be excited about and engaged in what they’re doing.

How much study participant interaction can research assistants expect to have?

This depends primarily on the project(s) to which you are assigned. Some, like TeMPO and ORBIT, come with a lot of participant-facing responsibilities, such as conducting musculoskeletal exams and recruiting subjects in clinic. Others, like OAPol, have minimal participant interaction. Most research assistants are working on at least one project which requires participant interaction.

No matter which projects you’re on, though, all research assistants have opportunities to gain clinical experience, including shadowing Brigham physicians, attending rounds and case conferences, and working with clinicians in the office.

Is there a lot of collaboration?

We foster a collaborative environment at OrACORe and PIVOT. New research assistants can expect to work closely with other research assistants, statisticians, clinicians, data analysts, and others on a daily basis. If you ever run into a problem, there is no shortage of people to ask for help!

What opportunities are there for mentorship and support?

Each research assistant will be paired with either Dr. Jeffrey Katz or Dr. Elena Losina upon arrival at OrACORe/PIVOT and have weekly check-ins with their mentor. Both are happy to give career advice and assistance in addition to providing guidance on projects. Research assistants also check-in weekly with Dr. Faith Selzer, who can answer any and all work-related questions.

Outside of these more formal mentorships, research assistants are surrounded by people willing to help. Not only are there other research assistants to consult, but there are also statisticians, clinicians, data analysts and others to answer more specific questions.

What does a day in the life of a research assistant look like?

This is an impossible question to answer! Each research assistant has a different set of responsibilities, and no two days are the same. But to give you a better idea of what you might expect, we’ve interviewed our first-year research assistants about their experience at OrACORe/PIVOT. You can read what they have to say here.

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