From Mental Health Treatment to Melanoma Risk: Student Research

The University of Vermont celebrates student research in all areas of inquiry through the annual Student Research Conference. Held this year on April 17, student researchers from across the university hosted oral and poster presentations during the day-long event at the Davis Center. The Larner College of Medicine was well-represented by students who have led research and published findings in a range of fields. Learn more about some of their projects:

 

Marie Kenney ’19

Marie Kenney ‘19
Title: Propranolol Use and Risk of Primary Melanoma: A Single Institution Retrospective Study
Read the Abstract

What’s the major take-away or finding from your research?
Our retrospective chart review at the University of Vermont Medical Center showed that the common blood pressure medication, propranolol, was associated with fewer cases of new-onset melanoma when compared to nine out of 11 control medications. This may indicate that propranolol could serve as a useful part of a preventative regimen for patients who are genetically susceptible to melanoma.

What was the mechanism for completing the research?
I completed this research for my fourth-year scholarly project under the guidance of Dr. Melanie Bui, a dermatologist at UVM Medical Center.

What did you learn through the process of completing the research? What surprised you? What will be helpful as you think about residency/your career ahead?
I was surprised at how important it was to learn how to utilize and understand several different statistical methods as part of this chart review analysis. Statistics are an incredibly important part of medical research, as they allow us to interpret the significance of patterns found in very large sets of healthcare data. Keeping myself sharp on basic statistics will help me to interpret literature and continue to perform research as a resident.

 

Cori Polonski ’19

Cori Polonski ‘19
Title: Novel approach to prehospital stroke screening using a smartphone application
Read the Abstract

What’s the major take-away or finding from your research?
Our project aimed to show that Vermont EMS personnel were able to effectively use the Field Assessment Stroke Triage for Emergency Destination (FAST-ED) smartphone application to stratify stroke patients in the field into high, medium, and low risk for large vessel occlusion strokes (LVOS). These patients are more likely candidates for endovascular thrombectomy (EVT), a procedure only offered at larger medical centers. If EMS personnel throughout Vermont are able to effectively use the application to risk stratify patients on likelihood of LVOS, then perhaps these patients could be sent directly to a larger stroke center capable of performing EVT instead of being brought to a local emergency department first, minimizing delays to intervention and improving patient outcomes after LVOS.

What was the mechanism for completing the research? What did you learn through the process of completing the research?
I got involved in my research project through my mentor, Dr. Guillermo Linares, right at the beginning of their development of the project. At that time, it was really just the question: Can we use a smartphone application (FAST-ED) to improve pre-hospital stroke screening? I had participated in research before, but this was the first time I had been a key member in writing the grant and IRB proposals, creating the workflow, and troubleshooting throughout the project. It was an incredible learning experience and made me better prepared to understand the work that goes into a research project of this size.

In our project, the principal investigator was Dr. Dan Wolfson, who is the medical director of Vermont EMS and an emergency physician here at UVM Medical Center. Dr. Linares was also a huge part in the project, as he serves as the director of the UVM Medical Center Stroke Network. We all worked closely with the Vermont EMS personnel, providing training on the smartphone application, as well as support throughout the process. This was also made possible through the work of the UVM Emergency Medicine Research Associate Program which assisted with data collection.

 

Michael Chmielewski ’21

Michael Chmielewski ‘21
Title: A primary care learning collaborative to improve office systems and clinical management of pediatric asthma
Read the Abstract

What’s the major take-away or finding from your research?
The major takeaway of the project is that quality improvement initiatives in primary care office systems can be linked to clinical improvement in the management of pediatric asthma.

What was the mechanism for completing the research?
I worked on this project during the summer of 2018 through the Larner College of Medicine Summer Research Fellowship.

What did you learn through the process of completing the research? What surprised you? What will be helpful as you think about residency/your career ahead?
I learned the importance of quality improvement in advancing medical practice, and how building on our current knowledge base is what changes guidelines and improves the standard of patient care for the future. I think gaining a more fundamental understanding of how the research process is implemented will be a valuable experience in my future career.

 

Jason UnChan Pyon ‘19

Jason UnChan Pyon ‘19
Title: Differences in Mental Health Perspectives between Asian-Americans and Caucasians
Read the Abstract

What’s the major take-away or finding from your research?
The first step to mental health is addressing the issue and seeking help, but stigma towards mental health treatment can be a barrier. I sought to measure the level of stigma in different cultures using a survey and statistical analysis, comparing Caucasians and Asian Americans. My sample of Asian Americans were more socially restrictive and more authoritarian than my sample Caucasian cohort. But both groups were more likely to be benevolent.

What was the mechanism for completing the research?
This was through the fourth-year scholarly project requirement for the Larner College of Medicine.

What did you learn through the process of completing the research? What surprised you? What will be helpful as you think about residency/your career ahead?
I think the most surprising result was that the Asian American group was more socially restrictive than the Caucasian group but still qualified as benevolent. This would suggest that both groups have sympathy for patients with mental illnesses but Asian Americans were less likely to associate with them and be more authoritative. I thought it was interesting how you could be benevolent and also authoritarian and benevolent towards patients. These results will help clinicians and patients understand the different forms of stigma against mental health treatment in different cultures. It would be beneficial to screen more effectively and prompt patients to participate in their care.

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