SSRCA program

From left: Jonathan Temte, MD, PhD, with SSRCA participants Danika Johnson, Ross Gilbert, Anan Pearson, Stefanie Sippl, Melyssa Baron, Jordan Smith, Taylor Boland, Gabriel Stewart, Echko Holman,
Jeanne Tong and Pei-Ning Hsu.

The UW Department of Family Medicine and Community Health (DFMCH) welcomed 11 medical students to its eight-week Summer Student Research and Clinical Assistantship (SSRCA).

Led by Jonathan Temte, MD, PhD, the SSRCA program matches students with DFMCH faculty to help advance research projects in family medicine and community health.

Students gain opportunities to participate in seminars, develop valuable research skills, meet and be mentored by DFMCH faculty, and present their findings to peers and potentially at academic meetings.

Learn more about their work below.

Project Spotlight: How Menthol in Cough Drops Affects Cough Severity

In her project, “Cough Drops: Cause for Concern?” medical student Danika Johnson (mentor David Hahn, MD) surveyed patients aged 12 and over with an acute or subacute cough at five Wisconsin clinics. Of the 549 patient surveys she analyzed, she identified 363 patients who used cough drops, 269 of whom reported using menthol cough drops and 31 of whom reported using non-menthol cough drops.

In her analysis, she found that greater daily menthol dose was not associated with greater cough duration at presentation, but was associated with greater severity. The study suggests that physicians might ask patients with persistent severe cough to consider stopping their use of menthol cough drops.

Project Spotlight: Family Physicians’ Role in Discussing Climate Change and Health

In her project, “Family Physician and Patient Attitudes toward Climate Change,” fourth-year medical student Taylor Boland (mentor Jonathan Temte, MD, PhD) helped survey faculty physicians, residents and patients at the DFMCH’s four residency clinics to assess family physicians’ roles in conveying information about climate change to patients.

She found that 44 percent of surveyed patients believe that climate change is impacting their health. Although patients have a high level of trust in doctors about environmental issues, they rarely use them as sources for this type of information.

At the same time, she found that 64 percent of the family physicians surveyed believe that climate change impacts their patients’ health. Though the majority agrees that the issue is relevant to patient care, most surveyed physicians do not feel well informed nor comfortable discussing these topics with patients. Less than one-third believed that physicians should have an active role in discussing climate change and environmental factors with their patients.

The study suggests that there is an opportunity for family physicians to educate patients on climate change and health, but physicians are unsure of their role in regards to the topic.

Project Spotlight: Practice Locations of DFMCH Residency Graduates

In her project, “Mapping our Impact: UW-DFMCH Alumni and Wisconsin Family Physician Practice Location Mapping,” medical student Stefanie Sippl (mentor Ildi Martonffy, MD) mapped the practice locations of DFMCH statewide residency graduates and determined the percentage who practice in distressed communities.

She found that graduates from each program tend to practice in and around the same location as their residency. Among the DFMCH residency programs, the Baraboo Rural Training Track had the highest percentage of graduates who currently practice in Wisconsin’s distressed communities (46 percent in Health Provider Shortage Areas, 27 percent in Medically Underserved Areas and 33 percent in areas with a high Area of Deprivation Index). The Madison residency program has the largest number of graduates who currently practice in Wisconsin’s distressed communities.

Sippl plans to continue analyzing the data to discover deeper trends and significance.

Exposure to Diverse Research Projects

The SSCRA exposes medical students to the diversity of research at the DFMCH. In addition to their work on the projects highlighted above, SSCRA students:

  • Compared the costs of reproductive health in Wisconsin with the cost of universally coverage of long-acting reversible contraception for all reproductive-aged women in the state;
  • Assessed current emergency contraception (EC) prescribing practices in a family medicine clinic, present recommendations for increasing EC prescribing, and collect post-intervention data ;
  • Collaborated with a study team to develop and pilot a screening protocol for opioid risk at Wisconsin trauma centers;
  • Evaluated and recommended improvements to a curriculum that trains health sciences students and residents to provide alcohol and drug screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment (SBIRT) services;
  • Conducted a detailed case review of osteopathic manipulation for intractable coccydynia;
  • Designed an evaluation of a pilot program to improve tobacco cessation rates of patients at the UW Health Yahara Clinic;
  • Evaluated community partnerships at the DFMCH’s four residency clinics, gaining exposure to innovative ways health systems can partner across sectors to address upstream determinants of health; and
  • Further explored variables and data analysis parameters for a household survey project aimed at improving nutrition, food security and maternal health in Ethiopia.

Learn more about the program and this year’s research projects »

Published: July 2017