Feeding and weighing rats, changing cages, petri dishes, hours and hours looking through a microscope – these were all concepts I associated with research prior to going to medical school, and honestly even during the beginning of medical school. They were my equivalent of scratching my fingers down a chalkboard; they invoked memories mostly of smells I had hoped to forget. Having done a study during my undergraduate time looking at the sense of taste and its effects of weight gain in albino rats, you may understand why upon getting accepted into medical school I saw research as something I would never again take part in. Then medical school came and went. During this time I was immersed in the study of the form and function of the human body. I was enamored by people, by patients. It was then my thought of research – rats, petri dishes, etc. – was changed. I realized that I really enjoyed asking a relevant question about the patient and finding an answer; ergo I began to enjoy research. I believe many clinicians have similar feelings towards research and my hope is that we all can change those feelings by following along with this blog.
Now as a practicing Emergency Medicine physician I have found myself with more questions than answers, and I am less and less satisfied with the proverbial “this is how we have always done it.” Which novel approach to a medical query works best? Why does it work in that setting versus this one? How do we as medical educators teach better, give better feedback, or mentor more effectively? I know I am not the only one who has these questions, and I also know not everyone has the tools to go about answering them. Each of you has a question that is worth researching in whatever form you choose.
So why do research? Research is a way to validate our current practices – whether you work at a level 1 academic center or a small critical access hospital; whether you teach students, residents, fellows, or the patient tech helping you with that reduction. It helps the practice and knowledge base of EM grow. It makes ALL of us better at what we love to do. It will empower you to be a better clinician educator and will start you down a road you will not regret. Over the next few months we will be writing other primers on research. We are excited to have you along for the ride, and please, if there is a specific topic you want covered let us know in the comments below!
Andy Little, DO
Research Director, Emergency Medicine Residency
Doctors Hospital/Ohio Health