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Lily Waddell began working at OrACORe in the summer of 2022 after graduating from Dartmouth with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology. During her time at OrACORe, Lily spent her time leading both the CoMeT and PIKASO study and contributing to projects on BriCC, TeMPO, and ORBIT. Throughout her time in Boston, Lily volunteered with Read to a Child, YES, and the Prison Book Program. This exit interview provides advice and insight from Lily about her time at OrACORe as she prepares to depart for a new chapter in medical school.

Lily Waddell running the BAA 5K with Hanna Mass and Lauren Mitchell.

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

Though I’ve been grateful to retain some of my direct patient contact work through CoMeT, in transitioning from first to second year, I adopted a lot more behind-the-scenes project and person coordination responsibilities – running meetings, writing protocols and manuscripts, and training and supervising first-year RAs. In my first year, I spent a lot of time following procedures, whereas in my second year I flipped the script, and I became the person writing those procedures. My leadership skills have developed over the past year, and though I’m sad to leave, I’m so excited that the current first-years will be making the same leap and becoming leaders at OrACORe over the summer.

Any advice for future research assistants considering working at OrACORe/PIVOT?

Stay organized!! OrACORe is such a unique and wonderful job in that you may get to work for multiple PIs on multiple projects, which will provide you with an abundance of mentorship and learning opportunities. Throughout my time at OrACORe, I’ve been lucky to collaborate with four PIs (Jeff, Elena, Morgan, and Cale) on five different projects (BriCC/PIKASO, CoMeT, TeMPO, ORBIT, and TOPS). Part of my learning curve was developing new strategies to balance deadlines and responsibilities for all these projects. For example, throughout high school and college I was a die-hard paper agenda fan, but after working at OrACORe for a few weeks, I quickly realized that my paper agenda was obsolete given that much of my work was digital and with self-imposed and flexible deadlines. The website/app Todoist became my best friend and I even use it for my grocery list now.

Lily Waddell hiking in New Hampshire with fellow OrACORe RAs this past October.

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

Hopefully (and finally) finishing up medical training, becoming an attending physician, and staying involved in clinical research in some capacity at an academic medical center! I’m originally from Maine, so I intend to stay in New England close to loved ones. As for hobbies, I hope I have time to do a lot of reading, hiking, and traveling.

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

It sounds cheesy, but I will absolutely miss the people the most! It’s the little moments that have made this such a special place – Faith bringing in scones for the RAs on random Fridays, getting book recommendations from Jeff, trying new lunch spots in the Longwood area with Cathy and Lauren…I could go on and on. If this was an awards show, there’d be music playing me offstage right now. There are just too many people whom I want to thank for having a positive impact on my time here – not only within OrACORe, but also all of the surgeons, radiologists, PAs, techs, administrators, and so many more wonderful people that I have gotten to work with.

Lily Waddell on her first RA outing! Rock climbing in Chestnut Hill.

What are your career goals and how have they been affected by your experience at OrACORe/PIVOT?

I came into OrACORe with no prior experience in clinical research (I’d tried my hand at basic and computational research but neither had clicked for me), and through my time here I’ve found a passion for clinical research that I want to permanently integrate into my future career. However, direct patient contact has also shown me how much I value the personal connection between providers and their patients. Ultimately, I want to strike a balance between contributing to research as an investigator, while also maintaining a robust clinical practice. What exactly that balance will look like or what medical specialty I’ll end up pursuing is still a mystery…good thing I have quite a few years left in training to figure all that out. :)

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