Medical students present research at primary care international conference

Sarah St. Cyr, third-year medical student at the Boonshoft School of Medicine.

Several Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine students presented research at the North American Primary Care Research Group 45th annual meeting in Montreal, Quebec, in November. Primary care researchers from around the world attended the annual conference.

Sarah St. Cyr, a third-year medical student, presented a poster, “Health Care Provider Religion and Beliefs on Advance Care Planning,” with Marjorie Bowman, M.D., professor, family medicine, and professor, population and public health. Ahmed Hawash, an M.D./Ph.D. student, also contributed to the research.

“As health care providers in training, we are taught to practice patient autonomy and not let our personal beliefs or biases influence our patient care,” she said. “I wanted to see if this held true in practice.”

Their research showed that health care providers’ religious beliefs or biases did not influence patient care.

“Our research showed that it is very unlikely that health care providers’ personal religious beliefs are biasing their patient interactions when it comes to advance care planning,” she said.

She was one of 10 of more than 100 applicants to be selected for a scholarship to attend the conference.

“The meeting opened my eyes to all of the fascinating research being done in primary care,” said St. Cyr, who plans to practice in family medicine after residency. “The meeting encouraged me to think more about my own research ideas.”

David Yoder, third-year medical student at the Boonshoft School of Medicine.

Medical students David Yoder and Andrew La’Pelusa and family medicine resident Melissa Quick, M.D., presented a poster, “Household Wellness in an Urban Safety-Net Clinic: Relationships, Finances and Medical Wellness,” with Peter Reynolds, M.D., associate professor, family medicine, and program director, family medicine residency.

They worked with Wright-Patt Credit Union, the Department of Family Medicine at the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine and Reach Out of Montgomery County, a free clinic that provides health care access to the uninsured and underinsured population of Dayton.

“We provided patients at Reach Out with the opportunity to attend one-on-one financial counseling sessions with a certified financial counselor, relationship counseling sessions with a clinical psychologist and medical wellness sessions with medical students and physicians,” said Yoder, a third-year medical student. “Our research team wanted to know whether patients at the clinic would be interested in these offerings and if there would be participation in these sessions.”

Twenty-nine people participated in the sessions, and 95 percent of the participants would highly recommend the sessions to their friends and family members.

“As clinicians and medical students, we understand that there are many factors that affect our patients’ health. Often, financial and relationship issues can hinder our patients from achieving medical wellness,” Yoder said. “We think people would greatly benefit from financial and relationship counseling when taking steps to live healthier lives.”

Andrew La’Pelusa, second-year medical student at the Boonshoft School of Medicine.

La’Pelusa said he and the others learned a lot from participating in Reynolds’ research.

“As a medical student, I learned how relationship wellness, financial wellness and overall household medical wellness affects an individual’s medical health,” said La’Pelusa, a second-year medical student. “These areas connect together. Wellness isn’t only about the medicines a patient takes. It’s more than that.”

Both La’Pelusa and Yoder agreed that the conference was an educational experience that introduced them to other researchers.

“It was a great experience to be able to share what we had learned in our study with people from all over the world,” Yoder said. “I also thoroughly enjoyed learning from other researchers at the conference. Primary care research is an exciting field, and it was eye-opening to see how much work is being done.”

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