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Angeline Gosal

Science › Biomedical Physiology + Kinesiology › Biomedical Physiology

Position Title
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As a research assistant for the Canadian COVID-19 Emergency Department Rapid Response Network (CCEDRRN), I am involved in data collection, telephone interviews, obtaining consent, screening eligible patients, and conducting medical chart reviews. As a member of the research team, I play a role in a nation-wide research study that hopes to improve patient care by studying COVID-19 patient outcomes.
Experience Details
Semester
Fall
Year
2021
Application and Interview Tips
  • Apply! Even if you feel like you're under qualified or the job seems to good to be true. Never underestimate yourself and put yourself out there.
  • Advocate! Use your application to promote your skills. This is your time to show potential employers why they should choose you! Sell your skills, experiences, and knowledge. Explain what makes you stand out from everyone else.
  • Prepare! If you are scheduled for an interview, don't just wing it! Do your research beforehand and practice. This will help you feel more prepared and less nervous when the actual interview takes place.
  • Be yourself! It's easy to get super nervous during interviews but just remember that the interview is similar to a conversation. You want to learn more about the company, while the interviewer wants to get to know you!
  • Ask questions! Remember it's not just you that's being interviewed. You are interviewing the company as well. You want to know whether it will be a good fit for you and so it's important to ask questions you may have about the company or job role.
Preparation
Previous Experience

The only prior experience I had in terms of research, was what I learned through my academic courses, mostly from my extended minor in Psychology. I learnt a lot about research methodology and data analysis from my minor, so I really suggest taking a minor as it can really provide you with a wealth of knowledge you might not get otherwise! I had textbook knowledge of research studies and the way studies are conducted, however, through this co-op position I was able to apply my academic knowledge to the real world and help contribute to actual research.

Preparation

In terms of preparation, I relied mostly on the training I was provided in advance of my co-op term. I started to receive training a few weeks before my co-op term began, and this really helped me prepare for my new role.

Preparation Tips for Future Students

Before your co-op term begins, I suggest researching the company/organization to learn more about what they do, what their goals are, and what they stand for, so you have a better idea of the company’s atmosphere and get a sense of what it will be like to work for them. Also, take a look at what the job requirements/responsibilities are. If there is something you are unfamiliar with, such as certain software, take this time to learn more about it and how it works. This will help you feel more prepared when your co-op term begins, and you will feel better equipped to tackle these new skills. In terms of this specific position, I would recommend familiarizing yourself with medical terminology and abbreviations as you will come across it quite a bit. Also, try to learn about the data entry software such as REDCap, as this is vital for data collection/entry purposes.

During my Experience
Orientation and First Weeks

My orientation and first few weeks on the job consisted of both online/zoom training as well as a few in-person sessions. I was trained mostly by other research assistants on the team, and it was a nice way to get to learn from the older co-op students. Our training consisted mostly of training documents, online modules, training sessions, and hands-on experience. For the first few weeks, we had the other research assistants verify/check our work and provide us with feedback, so that really helped. Afterwards, we moved on to “spot-checking”, where we would work independently and at the end of the day, ask for feedback on certain entries that we may have found challenging or wanted clarification on. Overall, our training and orientation was fairly in-depth and really helpful in ensuring my confidence to carry out my job duties efficiently and with accuracy.

Day to Day

My primary tasks include data entry and telephone follow-ups. During data entry, I will screen patients according to our inclusion/exclusion criteria, conduct medical chart reviews, and complete data entry via data collection software. On days when I am on telephone calls, I am responsible for conducting telephone interviews with eligible patients and obtaining consent. Other than data entry and telephone calls, I might be involved in other tasks, such as screening patients, helping with data verification, or leading team meetings!

Learning and Adaptation

At first, learning how to use all of the different software seemed daunting, as I had no prior experience with them. However, I was provided extensive training on how to use the software and now I feel quite proficient handling the different types of software independently. Another aspect of the job that I had to learn over time was medical terminology and abbreviations. During my work, I come across a lot of terms and abbreviations I was not familiar with prior to the start of my co-op term. However, over time and with the help of other research assistants, I have learnt a significant amount of medical terminology and I definitely feel that my knowledge base in this area has greatly improved!

Reflection & Tips
Connection to Academic Studies or Career Goals

I would recommend this co-op position to any students that are interested in research, specifically medical research, as well as students that want to pursue careers or studies in the medical or healthcare fields. This position will provide you valuable experience on conducting research, collecting data, and many other aspects of the research process.

Reflection

Overall, my first co-op term working for the CCEDRRN project has been very rewarding and I believe I have gained valuable knowledge and skills pertaining to research. Through this co-op position, I was able to experience firsthand, what it is like to be part of a research team. Rather than just learning about research via textbooks and lectures, I was able to apply my academic knowledge of research methodology to a real-life setting. It also feels very rewarding to actually contribute to research that has implications on patient care.

Advice for Future Students

For anyone interested in positions related to research (or any co-op position in general), I would definitely recommend building strong connections with your colleagues and supervisor! It’s important to have a good relationship with your team and be able to communicate effectively with each other. I would also advise to ask as many questions as you can, especially during your orientation or training weeks. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and ask for feedback because this will help you learn and improve your skills! Asking questions is vital to your learning experience, so even if your question feels silly, don’t be afraid to ask! It’s better that you ask questions and do things the right way, rather than make mistakes. Lastly, enjoy your co-op experience. It’s easy to get caught up in work and responsibilities, but it’s also important to make the most out of your co-op position and ensure it’s an experience that you will look back at fondly.