Sunday, June 14, 2020

Pediatric Residency Series: Research

In addition to its valuable role in helping humanity, research is one of the most important aspects of the fellowship application.


In this post, I will mention some points that will help in getting more research and in having a more systematic approach towards this field.


1-Start early

Time in residency flies very fast. If you know which specialty you are targeting, start doing research as early as you can. This will expose you to more ideas, allow you to have more possible publications and may also strengthen your clinical grasp on that specialty. 


2-Mentors

A mentor can be a current senior or an attending in your program or in any other program. Mentors have more experience and will shine a light on things that you may not consider. They will also give you research ideas and inform you about the conferences specific to your field of interest. The fellowship world is smaller than the residency one and mentors can write you letters of recommendation, put a good word for you and direct you to fellowship programs that best suit you.


Do not forget to check the: AAP Mentorship Program. As an AAP member, you have free access to this mentorship program which links you to mentors through its algorithm based on your preferences. This AAP feature is a hidden jewel that everyone should use.


3-Finding Research:

“How can I find research opportunities?” This is the-million-dollar-question and one of the most frequent ones I get.

I like to divide the answer into two main parts:


*Research at your program

This varies a lot based on your residency program but options include and are not limited to:

A- Case reports and case series

Do you have an interesting case on the Pediatric ward, PICU or NICU? Ask your attending if it is reportable, decide which journal or conference to target and start writing!

AAP has an amazing summary about this here.


B- Retrospective studies

Is your NICU big and with a high patient turnover? Come up with a research hypothesis or let your seniors and attendings aid you in this. These days and especially with the ICD code system, you can think about any research idea and find the research objects within seconds!


C- QI projects

Have you noticed anything in your program that can be improved? Is it an order set that can be added to your EMR? Do you feel a teaching module for residents or students would help? Create your own QI project, compare pre and post intervention results and present the findings at a regional conference or wherever you deem appropriate.


D- Surveys

Surveys are usually easy to do. Come up with the survey questions (search and ask while doing so) and run it by your mentor. You may do a pilot survey on a smaller amount of people before sending your official survey to your target group. The downside is possible low response rates which can make the survey hard to be published.


Do not forget to obtain the needed IRB approval in your program before doing anything :D 


*Research outside your program


A- Meta-analysis / Systematic reviews / Review articles

The above mentioned types of research can be done anywhere and anytime. They are usually carried out in teams including a statistician (or anyone who knows statistics) needed for meta-analysis. They may be time consuming so keep that in mind.


B- Global projects

Collaborative research is a type of research that is recently getting more publicity. There are infinite projects out there that you can join. You just have to know about them. An example is the Covidsurg collaborative project


C- Databases

Databases are incredible - and sometimes costly- sources for retrospective research. The hardest part is formulating the research question. After you have your idea, search online to see if it has been done before. An example is the famous Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) database. This database has many sub-databases with gigantic amounts of info that can be used for research purposes. Every disease you can think of is there with its corresponding ICD code. KID (Kids Inpatient Database) and NIS (National Inpatient Sample) are two subsets that include Pediatric patients. 


D- Twitter

Yes, as you have read! Some research projects can be posted on Twitter and you can directly contact whoever posted them and start.


4-Conferences

Conferences are very vital when it comes to research. Not only that attending conferences gives you the chance to meet people who share your interest, socialize and make new connections, find mentors, look for possible away electives and present your work. It also excites you, gives you new ideas and allows you to discover new places which will help in breaking the “stressful” residency routine.


Always know when the conferences are held, the early vs late registration fee, abstract submission opening date and deadlines so you can plan your traveling, accommodation and schedule changes.


Stay tuned for a list for conferences that you can attend/present at whether for general Pediatrics or Pediatric sub-specialties.


This post mainly applies to those in Pediatrics but same principles apply to most other specialties.



-Murad :)


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