The Research Associates Program (RAP)
The Thomas Jefferson University Hospital (TJUH) Department of Emergency Medicine Research Associates Program is a participant in the National Association of Research Associates Program (NARAP). NARAP is a symbiotic consortium of emergency departments and colleges joined to generate research and quality improvement projects utilizing Research Associates (RAs) to enroll large numbers of participants over short time frames with minimal impact on clinical operations.
RAs are pre-health professional college and post-baccalaureate students who volunteer in the TJUH emergency department (ED) for one 4-hour shift per week over the course of an academic semester assisting in the enrollment of subjects into ongoing clinical research projects. The TJUH ED is a level 1, urban university ED that sees over 65,000 patients per year.
The RAP provide the student with an evaluated clinical experiences for large numbers of pre-health professional students, including
-direct contact with patients and their visitors
-direct exposure to clinical research
- opportunities for discernment, qualification and personal development toward a health care career through exposure to a variety of healthcare workers
The application process takes place twice a year: October (for the spring semester) and February (for the fall semester). Applications are filled out online with the link sent to pre-health advisors at the Philadelphia area colleges (the link can also be obtained by emailing us at jeffEDchiefs@gmail.com). Applicants are evaluated on the quality and depth of their answers to the application questions and a demonstrated interest in the healthcare field.
Once accepted, new RAs must register as volunteers with TJUH. All volunteers at TJUH must complete the following: a two-step PPD test (obtained by the applicant), an immunization form (completed by a physician), three background checks (Criminal Background Check, Pennsylvania Child Abuse Clearance, and FBI Fingerprinting), and a urine drug screen. The background checks and drug screening are done at TJUH. Once this is completed, RAs receive their TJUH Volunteer ID Badge and are ready to start the program. This process can take 8-10 weeks.
The cost to the applicant is $200 for the first semester and $50 for subsequent semesters. The fee is non-refundable once the student has made it through to their first shift in the ED. Students who have previously volunteered as RAs do not need to reapply each semester. They are invited back for following semesters pending successful completion of their current semester.
The program begins with a day-long orientation for new RAs, held the Saturday before the semester starts. Here, RAs are introduced to the program director, Dr. Bernard Lopez, and the Chief RAs, who run the program’s operations. RAs are trained on research procedures and protocols, and are given practice scenarios on how to approach patients and enroll them in our studies. The RAs also receive support from the Chief RAs during their first weekly shift, where Chiefs work one-on-one with them to ensure RAs are comfortable in screening for and approaching patients.
Throughout the semester, RAs are evaluated by Chief RAs on their patient-interaction and clinical research skills, and given constructive feedback on their performance. Once the RA has completed their first emergency department shift, a letter is sent to the student's pre-health advisor detailing their performance. Additionally, RAs are invited to attend regular meetings with our program director throughout the semester. The program director, Dr. Lopez, is the vice chair of the ED, the director for clinical research, and associate dean of Student Affairs and Career Counseling at Jefferson Medical College. He serves as a resource for RAs by providing research education as well as career counseling. RAs are also expected to shadow medical students and physicians in our ED throughout the semester to gain clinical experience.
Chief Research Associates
Chief RAs are college graduates who are taking a year or more off between college and medical school, and are looking to increase their clinical, research, volunteer and leadership abilities. Chief RAs volunteer in their position from June after their graduation, serving an average of 10-20 hours per week. Chiefs generally are able to hold a part-time or even fulltime, job as long as the hours are somewhat flexible. Chiefs are responsible for the following: reviewing RA applications and making acceptance decisions, aiding RAs in the volunteer registration process, planning conducting orientation, training RAs during their first week of shifts, scheduling RA shifts, and evaluating RAs throughout the semester. Additionally, they participate in the planning of the research studies in which the RAs participate. The experience is an opportunity to develop leadership skills, to work closely with physicians in the ED, and to get an in-depth experience with the conduction of research. More information on becoming a chief can be obtained by emailing jeffEDchiefs@gmail.com.
Current Chief Research Associates
Adrienne Christopher: Graduated from the University of Delaware, 2012
Mike Jen: Graduated from The Pennsylvania State University, 2012
Kaitlin McCarter: Graduated from Boston College, 2011
Trent She: Graduated from The Pennsylvania State University, 2012; member, Jefferson Medical College Class of 2015
Recent Chief Research Associates
Stephanie Bernard: current member, Jefferson Medical College Class of 2016
Kait Dalsey: accepted to the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Class of 2017
Brittany Griffin: currently working as a medical assistant in a physician's office and applying to physician assistant school
Julia Moon: completed a Masters of Public Health from Drexel University, 2012
Nicole Piela, MD: resident physician in Emergency Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Class of 2015
Courtney Townshend: accepted to the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Class of 2017
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