The Community Health and Education Partnerships (CHEP) track within the Indiana University Medical Student Program for Research and Scholarship (IMPRS) is aimed to connect students with teams of community and university partners to address issues affecting the well-being of the community. We asked a former participant and Class of 2022 student, Jessica Chiang, about her experience.
Can you describe your research experience within the CHEP track?
WeCare Indiana is a program aimed to address the social determinants of health through health coaching with the end goal of reducing infant mortality rate in Central Indianapolis. Connecting people with community coaches enables a longitudinal, supportive relationship that allows the community health workers to address a diverse set of individual issues. My role was to determine what specific factors led to positive behavioral changes related to infant mortality rate using the notes generated by the community health workers.
Why did you decide to pick this track within IMPRS?
Coming into medical school, my knowledge of research was based on the basic science research I did in my undergraduate studies. I was excited to see a different side of research and specifically to learn more about public health research. Through this track, I was able to network with clinicians, MPHs, health coaches, and informaticians at the Regenstrief Institute.
How did you select your clinical mentor?
I knew I wanted to do the Community Health and Education Partnership track within IMPRS, so I went to the IMPRS site and looked at mentors and their project abstracts. I found a project that I was really interested in and I reached out to my mentor. The link is here.
What are some things you wish you knew prior to starting IMPRS?
I wish I knew that it is okay to search for work that I was truly passionate about. I wanted to be involved in research that I could really put my all into and I was fortunate that I found this project and my mentor Dr. Debra Litzelman. Going in I had very little research experience especially in this field, but overall my research this summer far exceeded my expectations.
How do you think your experience within the track will impact your future career?
Research was a humbling experience. In our Foundations of Clinical Practice classes, we talk about the social determinants of health and how they play such an impactful role in patients’ wellbeing. Through this work, I was able to see these determinants in play. I saw that everyone has the desire to be safe, healthy, and loved, yet many individuals face unique barriers to these problems. As a future physician, this experience helped me to understand how complex people are and how I can utilize resources like community health workers to better my patients’ overall health.
You can find out more about the IMPRS tracks here.