Let Me TEACH You a Thing or Two about Research - Rafi Alim, CSP Class of 2016

When I first heard about the TEACH Program last summer, I immediately wrote it off as something that wasn’t for me. I’ve never personally been interested in going into a medical profession, and that hasn’t changed. But after taking some time to think about it, I decided to give it a shot anyway. The Collegiate Scholars Program is full of exposure to things you wouldn’t normally see or do. Keeping that in mind, I chose to step out of my comfort zone and give TEACH a chance. An opportunity as unique as this doesn’t come buy very often. The way I saw it, if nothing else, it would be an experience that would broaden my horizons and help me become a more versatile individual.

So I elected to participate in TEACH this summer, and was placed in the Hospital tract. The first week consisted of extensive training. We learned about regulations such as HIPAA (Health Insurance Probability and Accountability Act), and were taught things from how to conduct inpatient and phone interviews, to inputting data into spreadsheets and databases. This was all done as part of the Hospitalist Project, which is a clinical research study that is working to improve the quality of care that patients receive during their stay at UChicago hospitals. This work consists of conducting surveys of people admitted into the hospital, gathering information regarding their health, treatment, and relationship with healthcare.

This work tends to take up our mornings. Later, we work on the new aspect of TEACH, which is known as STRIVES. In this branch of the program, we work on getting teenagers aware of and interested in careers pertaining to medical research. As a part of this, we try to figure out what appeals to people of this specific age group, and how we can effectively spread a message to them.  There were two focus groups that we conducted in order to find answers to these difficult questions. The interesting thing about this facet of the TEACH program was that it was almost entirely run and designed by us, the students. This kind of work really helps develop our abilities in analysis, communication, and more.

Another benefit of participating in this hospital opportunity was the lectures. During the final hour of every day, we would sit and take part in a discussion, with subjects ranging from HIPAA regulations to how to write a good college admissions essay. I think this was one of the most helpful parts of the program, because of how educational and useful the information we received was. All in all, TEACH has been a fantastic experience, and I would recommend it to any and all CSP members. It may seem like work at first, but it really is interesting. Just like any class, have fun with it!

Rafi Alim, CSP Class of 2016