Next Generation of VA Researchers to Explore Maternal Health in New Summer Research Training Program

UMass Chan Medical School students will conduct qualitative research focused on pregnancy and maternity care for female veterans this summer as part of the Veterans Administration’s new training program designed to diversify research staff .

Micaela Tobin, Kristin Mattocks, PhD, MPH, and Laël Ngangmeni in the community outpatient clinic for veterans on the UMass Chan Worcester campus

UMass students Chan Lael Ngangmeni, MBS, and Micaela Tobin will participate in the summer research program alongside UMass student Amherst Tanmaiyee Vaddepati and University of Pittsburgh student Akila Sanjay. Kristin Mattocks, PhD, MPH, professor of quantitative health and population sciences and associate dean of veterans affairs, is the program director at UMass Chan.

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Akila Sanjay

“Student researchers will have access to interviews with pregnant women and doula agencies and to qualitative and quantitative research. They’re going to have a lot of data to work with,” Dr Mattocks said.

The VA’s Office of Research and Development is funding the pilot program at UMass Chan and a dozen other sites. The goal is to enhance the diversity of the biomedical, behavioral, rehabilitation and clinical research workforce by providing research experiences to undergraduate students and healthcare professionals from diverse backgrounds, including those from nationally underrepresented groups in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral, rehabilitation, and social sciences. .

Mattocks said students at the UMass Chan site will work on the Center for Maternal and Infant Outcomes Research in Translation study that has been ongoing for six years, in which pregnant veterans are recruited from 15 VA facilities across the country and followed. during pregnancy as researchers work to better understand postpartum outcomes. They will also be part of the first-ever VA doula study, which will take place in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Durham, North Carolina. Pregnant veterans will receive doula care at the end of their pregnancy as part of the pilot study, which Mattocks said could go nationwide in a year.

“We found that there were very large ethnic-racial disparities in caesarean sections at some of our study sites. Doula care in the non-VA world has been shown to really improve maternal outcomes,” Mattocks said.

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Tanmaiyee Vaddepati

Mattocks said the goal is that by the end of the summer, the students will each publish an article on a topic that interests them.

“I’m excited to learn about the research process and clarify how you go from asking a question to doing research that’s applicable and can make a difference, especially with veterans of color,” said Tobin, a medical student. first year. in the Translational Clinical Research track at TH Chan School of Medicine who spent a year working in a fertility clinic before entering medical school. “There’s so much to look for out there and so much to change. How are we going to ask the questions that can have an impact? »

“Numbers can be a simple thing. But when someone talks about their experience and how they feel and confidence, those things are abstract,” said Ngangmeni, a medical/PhD student in the Population Health and Clinical Research Program who wants to be obstetrician/gynecologist and is interested in health. disparities. “Part of what you learn is how to hear and understand someone’s experience and convey it to providers or other patients, to better optimize a system and make health care a better experience. for everyone.

The Summer Research Program is a three-year program; students working this year will have the opportunity to return the next two summers.

Current articles related to UMass Chan:
VA pilot grant led by Kristin Mattocks to study doula care among pregnant veteran women of color
UMMS, VA Launches First-Ever VA Women’s Maternal Health Care Study
Medical/PhD student Laël Ngangmeni is dedicated to equity and justice in women’s health

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