The program begins with a day-long orientation for new RAs, held the Saturday before the semester starts. Here, RAs are introduced to the program director, Dr. Bernard Lopez, and the Chief RAs, who run the program’s operations. RAs are trained on research procedures and protocols, and are given practice scenarios on how to approach patients and enroll them in our studies. Chief RAs supervise enrollment of the first patients and provide support to the RAs throughout the semester.
RAs are evaluated by Chief RAs on their patient-interaction and clinical research skills, and given constructive feedback on their performance. A letter is sent to the student’s pre-health advisor at the conclusion of the semester that details their performance. Additionally, RAs are invited to attend regular meetings with our program director throughout the semester. The program director, Dr. Lopez, is the vice chair of the ED, the director of clinical research, and associate dean of Diversity and Community Engagement at Jefferson Medical College. He serves as a resource for RAs by providing research education as well as career counseling. RAs are also expected to shadow medical students and physicians in our ED throughout the semester to gain clinical experience.