Editor’s note: The Society of Hospital Medicine’s (SHM’s) Physician in Training Committee launched a scholarship program in 2015 for medical students to help transform health care and revolutionize patient care. The program has been expanded for the 2017-2018 year, offering two options for students to receive funding and engage in scholarly work during their first, second, and third years of medical school. As a part of the longitudinal (18-month) program, recipients are required to write about their experiences on a monthly basis.
I am a third-year medical student at the University of California, San Diego, as well as a recipient of the SHM Longitudinal Scholar Grant. Ultimately, I intend to pursue a career in academic medicine as a clinician-scientist, where I hope to bridge my interests in neuroscience, research, and clinical medicine.
Since entering medical school, my clinical experiences as a third-year student have truly reinforced my interests in research. During clinical rotations, I witnessed numerous patients desperate for new treatments because conventional treatments continued to fail them, suggesting a real need for research that directly improves patient outcomes and optimizes the patient experience.
Prior to entering medical school, I participated in a wide array of basic science, translational, and clinical research projects, but none in the area of quality improvement (QI). Given the breadth of my previous research experiences, an attractive feature of the SHM Hospitalist grant was the opportunity to complement this breadth of research exposure with increasing depth by exploring a QI project.
This year, I’ll be getting my first exposure to a QI project under the fine mentorship of Ian Jenkins, MD, SFHM, an attending in the division of hospital medicine at UCSD, who is working on an ongoing effort to combat catheter–associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI). Methods for reducing CAUTI include reducing indwelling urinary catheter (IUC) placement, performing proper maintenance of IUCs, and ensuring prompt removal of unnecessary urinary catheters.
Our project aims to combine all three approaches, along with staff education on IUC management and IUC alternatives. We plan to perform a “measure-vention,” or real-time monitoring and correction of defects by examining the rate of CAUTI as well as the percentage IUC utilization rate in participating units. Ultimately, we hope to optimize patient comfort and publicize our experience to help other health care facilities reduce IUC use and CAUTI.
I am excited to see how basic interventions, such as education and measure-vention can drive the development of improved health outcomes and quality patient care.
Victor Ekuta is a third-year medical student at the University of California, San Diego.