For my STEP experience, I participated in undergraduate research. STEP covered my cost of living for the summer, as I am an out-of-state student. I began working with my PI, Dr. Emily Patterson, PhD, in October 2013 on a hospital room design project. My aspect of the project involved analyzing transcripts of interviews and focus groups to identify issues with infection control in hospitals. During spring semester, I submitted a preliminary draft to the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society’s Annual Meeting to take place October 27th-31st, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Most of my summer was spent organizing the data I collected into a five page paper and poster to present at the conference if accepted. I worked with the hospital room design project team to combine my ideas and research into a coherent presentation. As a practice run for the HFES Meeting, I presented my poster at the Summer Undergraduate Research Forum in September (pictured above). In addition to the Human Factors paper, I also attended weekly project meetings in which the hospital room design project team began developing their 3-D simulation in order to generate a new layout for future hospital rooms. The goal was to gather feedback from every stakeholder group who enters the room. A stakeholder group is a group of people who perform a similar task in the room, such as doctors, nurses, and patients. We began constructing a 3-D simulation of an actual hospital room for stakeholder groups to mold to their ideal room. Simulations began running in early August. Finally, I also met weekly with Dr. Patterson in order to establish a solid research plan for the school year. I am now working on an analysis of patient safety and information technology in relation to room design.
I thoroughly enjoyed my summer research experience. I got to work in close contact with the diverse group of individuals who make up the hospital room design project team and truly gain knowledge from them. I felt that my opinion was valued by the group and that I actually made a contribution, something that I did not expect to come out of my summer research. I worked very hard with the team on the Human Factors paper, and felt extremely accomplished when I was accepted and able to present. The presentation in Chicago was an incredibly rewarding experience. Not only did I get to experience two days in a new city, but I got to make connections in a field that I may be working in one day.
Ultimately, my STEP undergraduate research experience has affected my academic, personal, and life goals moving forward. I will be continuing my research throughout the school year, and hopefully complete an honors thesis on my current patient safety and information technology project. I also hope to accept an internship working for a hospital system in the summer in a field related to my research, whether it be patient safety or quality of care. My overarching career goal is to become a Nurse Practitioner, and I think my human factors and patient safety research can definitely be applied. Whether I pursue an additional Masters degree in Human Factors, or just participate in more hospital improvement research, I know that I will be applying what I learned this summer in my future endeavors.