Monash medical students enable emergency department research

8 July 2016

Monash University medical students worked tirelessly recently to undertake a research study to help determine why parents bring their children to the emergency departments (EDs) at Monash Health.
The first of its kind, the study will link the advice sought prior to ED presentation, triage categories, reasons for presenting and the outcomes of ED attendance.

Monash medical students enable emergency department research
Fourth-year students Mariam Hassan, Neda So and Eliott with her mother in ED (Photo: Monash University)

Led by Monash Paediatric Emergency Department’s Associate Professor Simon Craig, the study was carried out over one week from 15 to 22 June in the EDs at Monash Medical Centre (MMC) and Casey Hospital.
“Thanks to the hard work and commitment of our medical students, more than 950 patient surveys were completed in just one week. Without their help, we couldn’t have done this study,” said Associate Professor Craig.
Coordinated and rostered by final-year Monash Medical School student Scott McNeil, 48 students volunteered to work a combination of day, evening and night shifts to ensure 24/7 coverage of the two hospitals for the whole study period—and in their holidays no less!
“Our students did a fantastic job, entering the data pretty much in real time,” said Associate Professor Craig.  “We hope that this sort of research model may be useful for future studies, not only in the ED but in the rest of the hospital as well.”
Participation in the study was 100% voluntary, and all medical students were recruited through the Monash University Paediatric Promotion, Interest and Training Society (MUPPITS) Facebook page.
“Student involvement was vital to the project,” said MUPPITS Chair Scott McNeil.
“In order to gain the required study participants, we had twenty-four-hour presence in both emergency departments at MMC and Casey, allowing us to get real-time data.
“Without the large number of students sacrificing their holidays, we couldn’t have achieved it,” said Scott.
Most medical students don’t have time to complete a full research project from beginning to end and Associate Professor Craig was keen to give the students a taste of research.
“The students experienced how data is collected in ‘real life,’ with all of the challenges of approaching patients and families, asking questions and data entry,” said Associate Professor Craig.
“They were also exposed to a large amount of time in the ED—a great opportunity to see how the department really works.”
Fourth-year medical student Mariam Hassan said being involved in the study was a terrific opportunity to see first-hand how research works. Mariam and fellow student Neda So volunteered to cover the ED for the project from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m., their first night shift experience.
“It was really interesting to see the patient experience and how ED operates at night,” said fourth-year medical student Neda.
“As well as contributing to this research and helping Associate Professor Craig with the project, we’re getting great clinical and teaching experience.”
The results of the study will be used to plan future services at Monash Children’s Hospital.

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