Studying Medical Interns #3

Thank you to everyone thats been keeping up with my internship updates and I really appreciate the comments and questions I’ve been receiving. If you recall my previous posts, part of my internship was sending out over 2000 packages of fitbits and DNA kits to our lab subject pool in order to collect data. How in the world did we sort and choose to identify 2oo0 packages? What are some of the skills I’ve gained through this process and internship as a whole. I’m glad someone asked!

Each subject in our study has multiple identifiers in our study to help us collect valuable data while while respecting the privacy of participants and not connecting their names to any of the data we collect. The first identifier is a 6 digit barcode that keeps track of every person’s DNA kit. When packaging each kit, it was essential to make sure that the barcode on the DNA tube was going to the correct person. Then comes in the identifier for the fitbit data that gives us information on actions such as steps, sleep hours and heart rate. Each subject had a 4 letter random identifier that made sure we received their Fitbit data with no “real” name attached. Everything else was pretty standard in sending out these packages including packaging, labeling, and sorting.

One of the most valuable skills I improved upon during this experience was organization. When it comes to thousands of people, multiple identifiers and package contents that all look the same, it is very important to know where everything is and where it is supposed to be at a given time. A mix-up in the order of address labels or DNA tube barcodes can have you scrambling and really set you behind as you try to sort out a mistake. Through trial and error, I helped develop a method of packaging each kit to ensure all the contents were included and they were in the correct box going to the correct person. My lab actually named this method the “Moe method” after me as it help us stay super efficient and organized. I hope they continue to use it for years to come!

Now comes the most difficult part of my research in the next few weeks. The data analysis part. I’m talking about tens and possibly hundreds of thousands of data points that need to be cleaned, sorted through and analyzed before I can conduct mathematical and statistical tests to prove any significance from the data we collected. However, I know I will enjoy this process as it is bound to teach me many skills.

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