My Summer Research Experience

By Charlie Walsh ’22

This summer, I have been working remotely as a research assistant for Huron Gastroenterology Associates located in Ypsilanti, Michigan. So far, I’ve been extremely fortunate to get one paper and one abstract published.

The paper focuses on Telehealth, which can be defined as the use of telecommunication modalities, such as telephone and real-time video, to connect patients with clinicians for the purpose of providing healthcare. As of right now, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) increased funding for reimbursement of telehealth communication in clinical visits but only until the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. With this study, we hope to persuade CMS to continue funding these patient encounters beyond the pandemic due to the high levels of patient and provider satisfaction, ease of access to medical care and the positive economic impact of this system.

The abstract examines the extensive costs of mandatory pre-procedural COVID-19 testing prior to procedures in order to determine whether or not the current system is economically and practically beneficial for gastroenterology clinics and their patients around the United States. Along with the publication, I have recently been selected to present this research at the American College of Gastroenterology’s annual meeting in October.

Receiving the Juliana Tazewell Porter grant allowed me to focus on my research full-time and has given me experiences that wouldn’t be possible without it. I believe the projects I am involved in have been extremely educational in learning the process of conducting clinical research, as well as offering valuable experience before I apply to medical school.  Although the in-person limitations of the current pandemic have hindered the efficiency of our studies, it also provides an opportunity to observe how researchers persevere through these restrictions and utilize cutting edge technology to their advantage, giving me a unique perspective of the demands and resourcefulness required of individuals in the medical field.

Additionally, receiving this grant gave me the opportunity to move from my home state of Michigan to North Carolina and train as a part of the Davidson Swim and Dive team while continuing my research full-time. With the current guidelines and restrictions in Michigan, I was unable to train for about 3 months before moving down to Davidson. Now that I’m back on campus, I’ve been extremely happy to get back to training for our upcoming (hopefully) 2021 season!

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