October 2, 2023

Sono Hot Seat with Frances Russell on POCUS Research Careers

Frances Russell MD, FACEP
Indiana University School of Medicine

Questions posed by Stephen Alerhand, MD 

What ideas or events sparked your interest in research?

I have to say through medical school and residency I was not very interested in research. It was in fellowship that I really became interested and I believe that it was for multiple reasons. For one, research was heavily ingrained in my fellowship. My co-fellow and I attended EMBRS, a basic clinical research course, offered through ACEP. Here we learned the basics of research, as the name suggests. We also learned how to write a very basic NIH style research grant. Secondly, research takes time; time to learn how to do it, time to plan it, time to conduct it, and time to disseminate it. During fellowship I simply had more time to focus on research and with this time I was able to gain knowledge and some experience needed to help set the groundwork for a career in ultrasound research.

Where did you develop your expertise in methodology and design?

I would like to start out by saying I am by no means an expert in methods and study design. A lot of how you choose the design of your study will be based on the specific project and study question you are trying to answer. This must be balanced with what is feasible for you to perform. For example, while a randomized control trial would be great to definitively answer a clinical POCUS question, maybe a more optimal design is a before and after, which requires much less time and resources to complete. This is where reaching out to your mentors in research and ultrasound can help you figure out the best approach. Other resources to help figure out design and methodology are biostatisticians, prior publications, and books such as “Designing Clinical Research” by Hulley and Cummings.

What advice would you provide for achieving meaningful research for a fellow or junior faculty?

Find a niche and a mentor/mentoring team. I cannot stress this enough! Your niche should be something you are truly passionate about. Read through the current literature to not only gain knowledge in your niche area, but also to identify the gaps in the literature that you can address with your research. With the input and help of your mentoring team, create a longitudinal research plan. An example of a plan may be starting with a systematic review to identify the literature out there and the gaps à a pilot study to determine feasibility and sample size à observational study à randomized study. Then, for example, during fellowship you complete the systematic review and small pilot study, which should be feasible during this short time frame. With this data you can then design your larger prospective study and apply for grant funding now having preliminary data you can use. This is a way to create well-thought-out, impactful research and establish a longitudinal career in ultrasound research.

There are numerous resources available to help with research. Here is a great one to check out.



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