Resident research improves patient care

At the Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center, pediatric resident Jacqueline Nguyen, MD, wanted to know how flu shots affected young patients with asthma. With help from her resident research advisor, she dug into data from electronic health records and found that flu vaccination reduced hospitalization rates for respiratory issues by 25% over the 6-year period studied.

“Residency research allowed me to investigate questions that I wanted to answer,” Dr. Nguyen said, “especially during flu season, when many families can be skeptical about the benefits of flu vaccination.”

Dr. Nguyen is emblematic of a growing number of residents throughout Kaiser Permanente Southern California who have helped improve clinical practice.

In addition to Dr. Nguyen’s work, research by residents in the Pediatrics Department at the Los Angeles Medical Center has led to better booking of follow-up appointments and fewer unexpected intubations among pediatric ICU patients.

Graduate medical education research informs practice

“Our graduate medical education research program provides a real-life world for residents to experience research,” said Joshua May, MD, associate program director of the pediatric residency program at the Los Angeles Medical Center. “Their research experience is much more practical than in many places and can set them up for a strong future career.”

At Kaiser Permanente, physician and scientist research is continually improving the quality of care to patients and the community. Medical residents add to this learning cycle by using their fresh eyes to spot potential improvements and conducting research. They often present that work to physicians and the wider medical community, at conferences and through publications.

At any given time, there are about 400 residents and fellows in the program.

New mentorship program increases research potential

In 2019, the Regional Research Committee introduced a new pilot program to fund research: a graduate medical education mentorship grant. The grant supports faculty mentors to develop research projects that are suitable for collaboration with residents and post-doctoral students.

The RRC funded 2 mentorship projects in 2019.

  • “Polycystic kidney disease characteristics and comparative outcomes within a real-world ”
  • “Acute myocardial infarction associated with the use of prescription ”

The projects were so successful that the RRC enthusiastically supported expanding the 2019 pilot into a fully funded project in 2020.

Residency bolstered by research

Dr. Jacqueline Nguyen, who studied how flu shots affected young patients with asthma at the Los Angeles Medical Center, plans to become an outpatient general pediatrician with an emphasis on urgent care. She said one of the most memorable moments from her residency was when she received her preliminary data results.

“It made me realize the sheer impact and wealth of information that Kaiser Permanente has to draw upon,” she said. “I’ll never forget how my mentors, attendings, and colleagues reacted to my results. I understood how significant they were because they were so applicable to our daily practice.”

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