Major: Emergency Health Services/Sociology
“Community Paramedicine and the Potential Benefits to Chronic Diabetic Patients”
The American Diabetes Association noted that nearly 10% of the U.S. population has diabetes (American Diabetes Association n.d., p. 1). Gary et. al demonstrated that diabetics working with community-paramedics benefit by improving disease management (Gary TL, Batts-Turner M, Yeh H, & et al, 2009, p. 1793). Unlike emergency paramedics, community-paramedics include preventative medical services. Pilot programs are underway but have yet to determine if these services are desired by the patients they intend to serve. A ten-question survey was distributed to a sample of adult diabetic patients. Pilot community-paramedic programs were reviewed for their effectiveness in increasing disease regimen compliance. This study was designed to determine whether patients are receptive to community-paramedicine services as a helpful adjunct to existing options. The results show that the majority of the surveyed population supported the hypothesis, in that they were willing to be involved with a community paramedicine program if one was available. The study also determined those who were not interested in the program were interested in the services offered; however, they did not like the idea that the services would take place in their home.
When did you join the McNair program?
I applied to be a McNair Scholar in December 2014 and was notified that I got it in January. Deadlines and more information about the program are available at http://mcnair.umbc.edu.
How did you find out about McNair?
I was walking through the halls and noticed a signup sheet for the McNair Scholars program. I had decided to attend UMBC because of its highlight on undergraduate research but was not sure on how to begin the process so when I read up on the program, I thought McNair may be a good starting point. I was later contacted to complete the application process by the graduate research assistant and statistician for the McNair program.
What have you gained from being a McNair scholar?
I have gained support and access to a world I previously knew nothing about. Being a first- generation college student, I had many academic questions and no idea where to get answers. The McNair Scholars program has allowed me to develop a research proposal, conduct the research and write a publishable paper all with the support of those who have previously gone through the same process. I was awarded a fellowship through the Summer Research Institute (SRI) that mimicked a graduate fellowship process. This SRI provided room and board along with a stipend to conduct my research over the summer. I also received graduate school preparation and incentives such as a GRE prep course, GRE exam waivers, and application-fee waivers when I apply to graduate schools among many other things.
What is your most recent independent research project?
I am conducting research in order to gauge the receptiveness of an adult diabetic population to a community paramedicine or similar community-based healthcare service. The information I gather should support the research that has been ongoing by various community-based healthcare personnel. I am filling gaps that are currently in the literature since this is still an emerging topic.
How did you find your mentor for this project?
I had taken a research in EHS course with Dr. Bissell in the past. His expertise in the disaster relief field aligns with my career interests and I knew that he was well respected in the field. Although I was not involved in research at the time, I remember him saying that while he normally mentors graduate students, he occasionally will mentor an undergraduate who is interested in research. When I found out that I was awarded a position with the McNair Scholars I contacted him about mentoring me through my first proposal.
How did you know this was the project you wanted to do?
I have always been interested in working with an underserved population in regards to medicine/ healthcare. I have done a few projects on community paramedicine and my advisor is currently involved in the implementation of a program in Baltimore, so I thought it was a relevant topic that I would have both access to information and support.
How much time do you put into it?
A lot! There are daily meetings from Monday to Friday that cover either information we can use for the project or will help on our journey to graduate school. The SRI is an eight-week program so our fellowship award required that the research could be done within such a short time period. The first week things were a little slow but from the second week on it has been a non-stop project. Some things such as phone calls, meetings, and gathering data needed to be done during the day, while I worked on my final paper throughout the night.
What academic background did you have before you started?
I received my A.S. from Front Range Community College in Westminster, Colorado before transferring to UMBC. I took ten years off after high school, which I do not recommend!
How much did your mentor help you with your research?
My mentor was extremely supportive while taking a more hands off approach. I knew that he was very busy because he served on various committees and boards, yet he made sure that he was available in some way if I needed anything.
What has been the hardest part about your research?
Since this is the first research project I have done, I am learning everything from scratch. The hardest task I have had thus far was finding a location that would allow me to gather data. I am collecting surveys from patients so I contacted numerous clinics, hospitals and association and had a rough time getting anyone to agree. Mostly bureaucracy but I suggest creating a point of contact early. It’s easier to thank them and say you don’t need their services than it is to ask for their help when the clock has started.
What was the most unexpected thing?
The most unexpected thing was my continued success with the research process. Not that it was easy, but I expected it to be more than I could handle. There was unlimited support that actually made the process enjoyable.
How does your research relate to your work in other classes?
In the Emergency Health Services department there are two possible tracks a student can take, clinical or management. I am on the management track so my classes have been more focused on the planning and budgeting aspects of emergency health. The courses I have taken have helped me in knowing what goes on behind the scenes in an organization. Upon reviewing the literature, I noticed that there wasn’t anyone who directly talked to the public about whether they would use a service such as community paramedicine. Although we are confident it will be utilized, it is important to have research supporting our ideas.
What is your advice to other students about getting involved in research?
Get involved early! If you have the slightest idea you may want to work on a project talk with your advisor or a professor that may be able to help you find a project. You don’t have to begin by developing your own research either. There are constantly projects that professors or graduate students are working on that may need your help. If you determine that you like it, joining a program such as McNair Scholars really is the best route because they allow you to fully develop, plan and conduct your research. Also looking into the Undergraduate Research Award or presenting at URCAD is something you should keep in your mind. The experience really is priceless!
What are your career goals?
Ultimately, I would like to work for an organization that involves itself with disaster relief and humanitarian efforts both domestically and internationally. In my mind I relate it to FEMA or San Fans. My research goals currently involve studying health trends and access to healthcare in developing countries.