Clinical researchers at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston oversee a diverse array of projects. Clinical research coordinator Shirley Wang is involved in multiple studies, including a feedback study on the psychosocial recovery of children with burn injuries run by Rob Sheridan, M.D., chief of burn surgery. Day-to-day responsibilities associated with these projects include tasks that ensure the compliance of all existing research, enrollment of patients into studies and analysis of data. Wang notes, “I love enrolling patients and getting them involved in the study. The project is currently moving into more data analysis which includes determining how our results can be used to help patients in the future.”
The clinical research co-op program at Boston Shriners Hospital allows college students to learn about the Shriners Hospitals for Children community, enhance their knowledge of the health care industry and build analytical skills on research projects that can be used in future careers. The program is supervised by Martha Lydon, RN, assistant director of clinical research, and Wang helps mentor and support the students, including Northeastern University student Alana Drexler who notes, “We are learning so much from Shirley; she definitely teaches us a lot. We are becoming familiar with ongoing research projects. As co-op students, we had the opportunity to write abstracts for MGH Clinical Research Day and we will present our findings next month.”
MGH Clinical Research Day allows clinical researchers and students to showcase their ideas and celebrate the work of peers within the Massachusetts General Hospital community. “Researchers submit a short abstract to summarize their research which includes an introduction on why the research is important, a description of the results and directions for future research,” Wang mentions. “We recently had a summer student, Sarah, who also submitted an abstract. She did her project with the help of Stephanie Romo, the previous clinical research coordinator, who went to Honduras in January and collected data on burn survivors’ physical and psychosocial recovery. In the future, Sarah plans to compare their outcomes to patients in the U.S.”
The Honduras project is just one of many projects being worked on at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston. Another clinical research co-op student, Ariana Nodoushani, describes her research with resiliency in the pediatric burn, pediatric endocrine, and pediatric psychiatry populations both here at Shriners and at MGH. She explains, “A resiliency questionnaire was created and given to patients to compare scores among different pediatric populations. It is such an interesting topic; resiliency is not something that immediately pops into your mind when you think of health care, but it is something that’s important in patient recovery.”
The future of clinical research at Boston Shriners Hospital includes the continuous improvement of the patient and family experience, particularly in burn care, and increased interdisciplinary involvement. Wang observes, “It seems to me that the patient care staff is trying to get more involved with clinical research. Shriners really values research as a whole. Even though the clinical research team is small, it’s great to feel so involved with the other departments.”
Pictured: Boston Shriners Hospital co-op students Alana Drexler and Ariana Nodoushani pose with clinical research coordinator Shirley Wang (right).