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Lauren Mitchell began her time working at OrACORe in the summer of 2022 after graduating from Tufts University with a Bachelor of Science in Community Health and Biology. Over her two years at OrACORe, Lauren spearheaded the start of recruitment for the KArAT study, contributed to MeTeOR, TeMPO, and FraPol, and was a key member of the social media team. Outside of her time in the office Lauren volunteered with YES and on the book cart at MGH. In this exit blog Lauren shares some key moments of growth from her time at OrACORe and “hopes” for the future.

Lauren Mitchell and Cathy Yang preparing to observe a TKR with Dr. Lange.

In what ways have you experienced professional growth during your time at OrACORe/PIVOT?

During my time at OrACORe my areas of greatest growth have been in my confidence and leadership skills. When I first started, I had imposter syndrome and struggled to adjust to life outside of school – namely, what to eat for lunch every day. Over my two years, not only did I learn new recipes, but I also grew into my position. While at first, I asked endless questions, by my second year I felt comfortable enough to answer all the questions the first years threw at me, and when I didn’t know the answer, I knew to whom to turn. I also grew to be more confident asking things of people. I learned to delegate tasks while also providing support for those who needed help in my team. I feel I am leaving OrACORe not only a stronger team leader, but also a more confident person.

How has working at OrACORe/PIVOT impacted your views on the practice of medicine through the lenses of clinical and policy research?

This position has shown me, more than anything, the power of well-conducted research and how much of a team sport both research and medicine are. Having been on the MeTeOR project at OrACORe, it was enlightening to see the power that clinical research can play on both practicing clinicians and shaping clinical guidelines. It brings a lot of meaning to our work knowing that, while we may not see patients daily, our efforts are going towards the greater good. I have also grown to appreciate the living organism that is clinical research and medicine as a whole. Having worked with physicians, scientists, physical therapists, and research assistants across the country I have gained a new understanding of the different levels of influence each person has in clinical trials of all sizes and the power that working towards a similar unified goal can provide to a group of individuals.

The 2nd year RAs enjoying time together in the “beach”.

How have your roles and responsibilities changed in going from a first-year research assistant (RA) to a second-year RA?

My first year was largely split between many projects doing odds and ends for each project when I was needed. This included helping with grants, conducting study visits, and helping a study get off the ground. In my second year, largely due to the fact that my main project, KArAT, was in the beginning of recruitment, I have found myself in a much more unidimensional focused position. The RA coordinator role itself is multi-dimensional, and over this past year I have gained leadership experience through leading project, research coordinator, and investigator meetings, managing study data, fielding questions from local and other site personnel, training and certifying in-coming research assistants, and importantly training my replacement RA coordinator to ensuring the study continues smoothly, long after I leave this office.

Where do you see yourself in ten years (City, hobby, job?)

My next step is medical school at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where hopefully in 10 years I will be treating my own patients. No matter what type of doctor I choose to be or where the future will take me, I hope that my current values continue to be integral to my life. I hope to continue to be close with my family as they are the most important people in my life. I hope to continue to have a passion for travel and go to new places, whenever the opportunity presents itself. I hope to be my own Great British Bake-Off winner by successfully making a Kouign-Amann. I hope to have a dog. As Morgan Freeman’s character Red once said, ‘I hope’.

Lauren Mitchell taking in the sites around Flam, Norway.

What will you miss most about OrACORe/PIVOT? Social aspects? Research?

From a professional standpoint, I will miss the responsibility of coordinating work on KArAT and knowing its ins and outs. I cherish knowledge and understanding, and I know everything about how KArAT functions and I understand how all the parts fit and work together. There are very few times in life, especially in medicine or the regular workplace, where you can claim that you know something in its entirety. I acknowledge that I will miss this security because as I return to school, I know that I will need to learn a lot.
From a more social perspective, I will absolutely miss the people and camaraderie of our workplace. I am happy to call many of my fellow research assistants genuine friends. I will miss turning my chair around in ‘the beach’ to chat with coworkers about the latest celebrity gossip, sharing new music, or trying new foods. The time in between the work was just as fulfilling as the time doing the work. I wish all my coworkers all the best and hope anyone coming into the job has just as an impactful experience as I did.

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