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Research Interns Lighten the Load of Paperwork for Investigators

January 27, 2016
Research interns assisting with IRB documentation

“Every patient at a Baystate affiliate who is potentially eligible and appropriate to enter a clinical trial should be offered the opportunity to do so," says new Baystate Health Chief Research Officer, Dr. Peter Friedmann.

Increasing the number of clinical trials offered means a corresponding increase in the amount of time required to fulfill and document the myriad safeguards that clinical research entails. With 57 principal investigators and only 15 research coordinators, it just doesn’t add up.

“We have one research coordinator to manage a bevy of PIs, so I’m often inundated with IRB paperwork, sponsor paperwork, and patient enrollment,” says Kye Poronsky, Clinical Research Coordinator, Department of Emergency Medicine.

Enter the research interns.

“We were offered the help of the interns to manage that IRB paperwork so we could have more time to be enrolling and properly documenting our research subjects,” adds Ms. Poronsky.

Researchers Benefit

The research intern program, now in its second year, offers two positions a year to college graduates who are interested in exploring careers in the medical field.

Initially, the interns were assigned to assist research coordinators in emergency medicine, surgery and cardiovascular.

“The praise was loud and strong,” says Barbara Richard, Director, Sponsored Programs Administration, and supervising manager of the interns. “By popular demand they soon were being recruited by neurology, pediatrics and behavioral health.”

The research interns support departmental researchers by performing a variety of tasks.

“I’ve assisted with many studies in numerous capacities – study protocol write up, submission, data collection, analysis, amendments, protocol deviation submissions, and closures,” says Nicholas Cormier, one of the current research interns.

Research coordinators have benefited in other ways, as well, according to Poronsky.

“I learned a lot about how the IRB works as a whole,” she says. “It has enhanced my ability to do my job using some of the knowledge I gained from them to be more efficient with the paperwork that I submit myself.”

Patients Benefit, Too

“This new research intern initiative helps Baystate grow its funded research enterprise,” says Richard.

“The interns bring fresh energy and insight to their administrative tasks, and their behind-the-scenes work allows this important research to reach our Baystate patients.”

> Learn more about Baystate Health's research programs

> Find a clinical trial at Baystate