From Serving Meals to Studying Patients’ Behavior, This Research Team Thrives on Collaboration
March 2, 2018
The Bass Connections project team Patients’ Journey to Medication Adherence went on a journey of its own last month. Faculty and student team members headed downtown to combine some personal bonding with service to the community by preparing, cooking and serving dinner for 260 shelter residents and clients at Urban Ministries of Durham. Joining the group that evening were the team’s external partners, researchers from The Link Group, who have been very supportive in this collaborative endeavor.
Team leader Cheryl Lin, codirector of Duke’s Policy & Organizational Management Program, described the activity as vital to helping the team learn to operate as a unified and efficient whole. Working together, they managed to serve 120 meals in the first ten minutes so the long line of diners wouldn’t be kept waiting.
“It was humbling to see so many people in need, even just in our neighborhood,” Lin said. “At the same time, it was a special bonding, fulfilling and fun experience for our diverse team, and we plan to do it again next year.”
Over the past six months, the team has built a solid foundation to facilitate research into patient disincentives and motivators for more optimal medication adherence. According to Neuroscience major Shweta Lodha ’19, her Bass Connections experience has demonstrated how a strong team environment can help researchers withstand daily pressures and build resilience. Read more below, in her own words.
This project has overall been an entirely enriching process, filled with unexpected challenges and rewards that altogether have made me a stronger researcher and learner. As an aspiring physician, I was immediately attracted to this project due to its emphasis on gaining a better understanding of the many moving factors that can impact patient behavior. The opportunity to be a part of a research team with individuals that varied in their expertise from organizational management to health policy was enticing to me.
Furthermore, given that my previous research focus was primarily quantitative cellular and molecular biology, I was excited to learn about how qualitative research is conducted. I feel extremely grateful to be able to say that all of my hopes for this project were more than met through a process of constant edification and growth.
The opportunity to be a part of a research team with individuals that varied in their expertise from organizational management to health policy was enticing to me.
I feel that I have learned a great deal about the process through which qualitative field work is conducted. For the first few weeks, I struggled to understand the project research questions, only to eventually realize that the task of constructing research questions is an integral part of the research process itself, and contingent upon completion of rigorous literature review and analysis. Learning more about the process through which a research focus is clarified has already made me a more perceptive researcher. For example, when I read journal articles, I no longer take the research focus as a given. Instead, I immediately wonder about the methods through which the researchers clarified their questions.
Learning more about the process through which a research focus is clarified has already made me a more perceptive researcher.
This project has also taught me about the value of effective communication in team-based projects, and the patience, resilience and perseverance that is required to develop a research project from inception. As a student, much of my daily work is self-guided, so it was not until I participated in this research project that I fully understood the benefits that dynamic collaboration can provide to overall growth and productivity.
There were many times this semester where I felt my viewpoints on certain issues being positively challenged. I was made to think differently about everything from the importance phrasing has in constructing effective focus group questions to the general role of communication in mediating patient behavior, to everything in between. All in all, this semester has led me to fully understood the value of investing in building a strong team, that can withstand the many pressures researchers can face on a daily basis.
This project has taught me about the value of effective communication in team projects, and the patience, resilience and perseverance that is required to develop a research project from inception.
Finally, this project has allowed me to recognize the importance of seeking help from outside parties. I have learned that collaboration with community partners is vital in order to expand the depth of the research conducted. For example, inputs from Link Group experts and program specialists at Duke vastly enhanced the way I understood the project goals and analyzed collected data.
Relatedly, I have learned that research often involves one to be flexible, and willing to learn new skills according to the needs of an evolving research project. Going forward, I feel motivated to further investigate ways to expand the scope of this project through utilization of other resources and services available at Duke and beyond.
I have learned that collaboration with community partners is vital in order to expand the depth of the research conducted.
All in all, my experience with this research project has shown me that conducting research is a constantly changing process that warrants malleability, a keen desire to learn from diverse perspectives, and a capacity to address obstacles along the way through collaboration, use of evidence-based approaches and creativity! I feel extremely excited to continue my development as a researcher and a thinker through this project!
- Read about the work of this project team.
- Come to the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences (DIBS) Discovery Day on April 15.
- Browse other stories from students in Brain & Society project teams.