HH&Y Program Challenges Students to Design Their Own ResearchMarch 2, 2023
Engaging in research is an important part of students' education at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM), as it enhances their critical thinking ability and encourages them to contribute
new knowledge to improve patient care.
The Havas Health & You (HH&Y) Research Scholars program, announced last spring, is an innovative approach to research designed specifically for Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) students. PCOM is the first and only medical school to partner with HH&Y on a research
program. This pilot program paired DO students with HH&Y mentors who guided them through
the research process. Students submitted research proposals of their own design and
worked with the mentors to facilitate their research efforts and guide them to completion.
The initial cohort of three students has been engaged in their respective projects
since the fall of last year.
Andrew Morgan (DO '25) has focused his research on the relationship between caregivers
and patients with Alzheimer's Disease and related dementias. “I’m trying to figure
out the relationship between the caregiver and the physician and what might be lacking
there, if anything, and how we can ultimately bridge that gap for better patient outcomes,”
he said. The connection to this research for Morgan is personal. “My grandma had Alzheimer's,
and my mom was her primary caregiver,” he said. “And when I was going through it with
her, she never really felt too supported by the physician, so I thought it'd be interesting
to figure out why that might have been.”
For Rachel Lamy (DO '24), a third-year student hoping to specialize in ophthalmology,
the program provided a unique opportunity to explore her own academic interests and
develop a project that was personally meaningful. “A lot of research during medical
school is research that’s been established by residents or attendings,” she said.
“This was a really cool experience where you start with your own proposal and then
go through the entire process of doing research, but of course, you’re supported [by
the HH&Y mentors] along the way.”
As a new program, Lamy said she initially didn't know what to expect from the experience,
but would now recommend it to other students in future cohorts. “Absolutely,” she
said. “I think it's been really helpful because it's so independent. It's been really
good for me to focus on those research skills and create a research question that’s
achievable. That's something I've learned along the way.”
For other students, like Tori Abdalla (DO '25), the opportunity to take an idea that
might otherwise remain just an idea and create something actionable from it was exciting.
“I think it's a really great opportunity if you're interested in research, especially
if you have just a spark of an idea, but need help molding it,” said Abdalla. “I have
a lot of ideas, but the execution is a challenge without real-world experience.”
“The opportunity to apply theory to practice is a really important, and often missing,
part of graduate training,” said Brad Davidson, PhD, director of medical anthropology
at Havas Health & You and one of the mentors in the program. “I'm excited that we
can help connect these students to something practical and real while they are still
in their program.“
Upon completion of their respective projects, Morgan, Lamy and Abdalla will have the
opportunity to present their research both internally and at conferences. Their research
is also expected to result in publication of their findings.
Like any worthwhile experience, the program has, at times, challenged the student
participants. “It's definitely brought me out of my comfort zone,” said Morgan. “I've
definitely had to grow a lot through it, but it's been really beneficial, and without
the program, I wouldn’t have done this [research] on my own.”
Learn more about student research at PCOM.
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About Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Founded in 1899, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) has trained thousands
of highly competent, caring physicians, health practitioners and behavioral scientists
who practice a “whole person” approach to care—treating people, not just symptoms.
PCOM operates three campuses (PCOM, PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia) and offers doctoral degrees in clinical psychology, educational psychology, osteopathic
medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy and school psychology, and graduate degrees in
applied behavior analysis, applied positive psychology, biomedical sciences, forensic
medicine, medical laboratory science, mental health counseling, non profit leadership
and population health management, organizational development and leadership, physician
assistant studies, school psychology, and public health management and administration.
PCOM students learn the importance of health promotion, research, education and service
to the community. Through its community-based Healthcare Centers, PCOM provides care
to medically underserved populations. For more information, visit pcom.edu or call 215-871-6100.
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