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Following his graduation from Boston College with a BS in Neuroscience, Jon Dhani joined OrACORe in July of 2023. Jon pursued cultural and medical extra-curricular interests while in college by becoming a member of the South Asian Student Association in 2019 and training to become an EMT through the Boston College EMS program in the spring of 2020. In addition to covering campus shifts as an EMT, Jon was able to cover special events such as Marathon Monday and BC sports games. During the summer between his sophomore and junior year, Jon was given the opportunity to work as an EMT in the greater Los Angeles area where he conducted emergency neonatal and pediatric intensive care unit transports with chronically ill patients. Outside of OrACORe, Jon volunteers at Tutoring Plus as an academic mentor to elementary students.

Jon Dhani at Boston College graduation with his family. Photo courtesy of Jon Dhani.

What about this research position attracted you to it?

I was attracted to this research position because of the incorporation of different research disciplines, including orthopaedics and arthritis, in all the ongoing projects at OrACORe. When applying to the clinical research assistant role, I was drawn to the opportunity to explore the intersection of healthcare and research and to interact with a wide array of members in the field, including physicians, statisticians, physical therapists, data managers and many other brilliant researchers!

What’s a typical week on the job for you?

Each week brings something new at OrACORe. A typical week for me is a combination of managing my weekly responsibilities for actively recruiting projects as well as continuing the development of projects in their early phases. I’m currently on KArAT, COSMIC, and TOPS. Each of these projects are currently in different phases of their study-based timelines which have been invaluable for me to learn about the complete research study design process. For KArAT, I split my time between recruiting participants and performing baseline and follow-up study visits, which include musculoskeletal assessments. With COSMIC, I complete literature reviews and edit project materials. Recently, we have started screening and recruiting subjects for a patient preference assessment (PPA) study. The PPA aims to develop a strategy for identifying and contacting eligible subjects and estimating the number of eligible patients who would agree to participate in COSMIC if the study existed. On TOPS, I am designing advertising materials in preparation for the start of recruitment around December 2023/January 2024. My weekly responsibilities vary greatly between baseline visits, screening patients, designing project materials and more. There is always something new to learn and do!

What do you like most about being a research assistant at OrACORe?

One of the things I enjoy most about being a research assistant is my level of involvement on my research projects. From day one, I have been exposed to project planning and database development through participant recruitment. This exposure allows me the opportunity to make significant contributions to each project and will allow me to grow as a researcher. Along with the lovely people I work with, being a research assistant here is one of the most rewarding experiences!

Jon Dhani volunteering at the Mile 21 Medical tent during the Boston Marathon. Photo courtesy of Jon Dhani.

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 few months, one thing that has changed the way I perceive healthcare is my bigger picture understanding of chronic illness and injury, its severity in the population, and the importance of outcome research to address these problems. As a member of the blinded team in KArAT, I conduct study visits and interact with patients who are about to undergo a total knee replacement. As I listen to their stories, I realize how much of their lives have been affected and shaped due to chronic knee pain. It has inspired me to learn more about how their physical disabilities and, importantly, how they interact with their loved ones due to immense knee pain. I’m thankful to be able to listen to their personal experiences and get a better understanding of chronic illnesses in healthcare.

What are your plans post-OrACORe?

I hope to attend medical school after my time at OrACORE. While I am not tied to any specific medical field, I would like to strike a balance between clinical interactions and research. As I continue to build upon my understanding of research here and reflect on my personal experiences, my future medical path post-OrACORe will become clearer.

What makes you laugh the most these days?

I am thankful to be surrounded by friends both at work and at home who never fail to make me laugh. The people I’ve met at OrACORe are fantastic and I have loved getting to know the diversity of personalities among them. Collectively, my co-workers are driven, knowledgeable, and terrific conversationalists. At home, I am lucky to be surrounded by a strong support system made up of my closest friends from college. If I find myself needing to laugh, I have 26 seasons of South Park that I watch through our HBO Max subscription (thank you, mom!).

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