Focus On highlights faculty, staff, students and researchers at the UC Academic Health Center. To suggest someone to be featured, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Allison Mayhew is a third-year medical student from North Canton, Ohio. In the summer between her first and second year, she studied with professor of pediatrics Jessica Kahn, MD, MPH, as part of the Medical Student Summer Research Program.
At the end of her third year, Mayhew is now considering a residency in pediatrics and potential future in public health and clinical research.
Why did you choose UC for medical school?
"Looking back, there were a lot of reasons—big and small—why I ultimately chose UC. I think that the biggest factor was the emphasis that I felt that UC had on building physicians-in-training who are not only well prepared academically, but also well rounded in and outside of medicine.
"At the time, I knew that I wanted to gain research experience, I wanted to get involved in medically related community service, and I thought that I might even want to spend some time during my medical training abroad.
"Not only did UC have opportunities for all of those things, but encouraging students to have those experiences seemed like it was important to many of students, physicians and administrators I encountered during my campus visits.”
How did you get involved in the research project with Dr. Kahn?
"As medical students, during the summer between our first and second year we have a few months off to explore our interests in medicine outside of the classroom. Some students do clinical experiences, some volunteer, some go abroad and some do research.
"I decided to apply for a research grant through the Medical Student Summer Research Program (MSSRP) and through that program I was introduced to Dr. Kahn and her research.”
What was your role in the study?
"Since most of the data had been collected before I started on the project, I spent most of my summer working with our biostatistician on data analysis. From there, I used the original analyses for a poster that I presented at a meeting for the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine last year. Then, over the last year, we expanded on those analyses for the manuscript, which I wrote.
"What I really liked about working with Dr. Kahn is that she encouraged me to be involved in every aspect of the research process—from drafting the initial analysis plan to editing, re-editing and even approving the final manuscript from the Pediatrics editors. I was involved every step of the way.”
What do you take away from the experience?
"When I first started working on this project I had very little experience in clinical research and writing. Most of my previous research experience was from a bench research project in college, so almost all of the process in this publication has been new for me.
"On the first day that I met with Dr. Kahn, she introduced the idea of me writing this manuscript. I remember walking out of her office and thinking that there was no way that I, as a first year medical student with so little experience, had anything close to the skill set necessary to analyze this data and subsequently write and publish the paper.
"I took her up on the challenge, but to be completely honest I was skeptical. In hindsight, it’s been such a rewarding experience taking a big and slightly intimidating project, working through it step by step, and then ending with a final product that far exceeds any of the expectations that I had at the outset.
"I feel that I’ve grown so much with this project, both in my research skills, but also in my expectations for where I think my career might be going from here. I had such a positive experience and I am so thankful that Dr. Kahn was willing to both offer me the challenge and then mentor me through the exciting, but also sometimes daunting, maze of clinical research and publication.”