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Kelly Frier started working at OrACORe in June of 2023 shortly after graduating from Quinnipiac University with a BS in Health Science. Kelly gained hands-on medical experience by working as an Urgent Care medical assistant from 2019-2023. She also led weekly review sessions for Anatomy and Physiology students starting the fall semester of her third year. Kelly traveled abroad in the summer of 2022, where she spent a month at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital learning about the South African healthcare system and shadowing in the surgery department. In the fall of 2022, Kelly volunteered as a support companion to elderly residents at Masonicare nursing home. Kelly has continued to stay involved with efforts to reduce elder isolation and she currently volunteers with the organization FriendshipWorks, which pairs volunteers with older adults to provide a source of friendship and support. During the weekend, Kelly spends her time outdoors playing in an intramural volleyball league.

A photo of Kelly on Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. Photo courtesy of Kelly Frier.

What about this research position attracted you to it?

I was drawn to the position at OrACORe because it allowed me to combine my passions for research, medicine, and public health. In my role as an urgent care medical assistant during college, I enjoyed working with patients of all ages and first became acquainted with orthopedic conditions, such as sprained wrists and osteoarthritis-induced knee pain. After college, I wanted to delve deeper into the research and health policy aspects of medicine, but I did not want to forego the opportunity to interact with patients. OrACORe offers the perfect balance, allowing me to participate in an array of projects ranging from recruiting patients and conducting visits with the KArAT study to constructing the policy informing FraPol model. It has also provided ample opportunities for collaboration with fellow RAs and wonderful mentorship from the senior OrACORe staff.

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

Every week brings a unique combination of tasks across the four projects I’m involved with: KArAT, BriCC, PIKASO, and FraPol. KArAT is my primary project, so I dedicate time daily to screen, recruit, and/or follow up with study participants. I also spend one or two days per week in the clinic at the main Brigham campus or one of our satellite locations performing musculoskeletal exams during baseline visits. Engaging with study participants during these visits has been particularly rewarding, and hearing their stories has helped me learn a lot about knee osteoarthritis. For BriCC, I’m currently analyzing data from a qualitative interview study that aimed to gauge patient preferences for addressing post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA) following an ACL tear. For PIKASO, in preparation for beginning recruitment this winter, I have been drafting protocol flowcharts to guide RAs through the enrollment process. Lastly, I spend any remaining time during the week training to use the OAPol model, which is similar to the model being developed for FraPol.

A photo of Kelly’s intramural volleyball team practicing. Photo courtesy of Kelly Frier.

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

I love the collaborative and supportive team we have here at OrACORe. Our supervisors ensure that we are continually given opportunities to challenge ourselves and gain new skills and knowledge. However, if we run into difficulty, there is always someone happy to help. I feel very lucky to be surrounded by such kind, intelligent colleagues and mentors who make me excited to work each day.

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?

I have gained an appreciation for the many components and people necessary to successfully implement a multisite clinical trial. Clinical research is interdisciplinary, and the entire process draws on the expertise of professionals from diverse backgrounds ranging, in our case, from imaging specialists to physical therapists. Being involved in multiple studies, each in various stages from protocol design to data analysis, has deepened my understanding of the complex and exciting nature of the research process. I am also looking forward to learning more about public policy over the next two years!

Photo of Molly Frier. Photo courtesy of Kelly Frier.

What are your plans post-OrACORe?

I am currently studying for the MCAT and plan to apply to medical school next spring. I hope to incorporate clinical research and public health into my future career, although I am not sure yet what that will look like.

What makes you laugh the most these days?

My family! I love sharing stories with them about my adventures in Boston and hearing their funny anecdotes about our sweet but lazy golden retriever Molly. She is always up to something, whether it is sneaking off somewhere she shouldn’t be to take an afternoon nap or attempting to catch squirrels in our backyard.

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