Research endeavors in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology are robust. The Department and Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine currently have over 40 IRB-approved research projects and consistently has high rates of project progression from concept to study protocol to meeting presentation and publication. The division has a dedicated, full-time research nurse who works in collaboration with UT Medical Center’s Office of Clinical Trials. Departmental research efforts are ever-growing and faculty and trainees meet on an ongoing basis.
Current research topics within our division include:
Infectious diseases and vaccines
Substance abuse in pregnancy
Exercise, nutrition, and diabetes
Policy, advocacy, and the impact on care provision in maternal-fetal medicine
Performance improvement projects both internal and statewide
The Physical Activity and Metabolism (PAM) Lab, overseen by our dedicated research faculty member, Jill Maples, PhD, opened in February 2022. The PAM Lab is made up of office and lab space that is equipped for clinical and translational physiological research that is specifically designed to assess whole-body human metabolism under a variety of conditions across multiple patient populations.
Fellows are given both formal and informal opportunities for scholarly activities as part of their research training. First year fellows will take a week-long research course with biostatistician, Dr. Eric Heidel, PhD. This course is made up of a combination of in-person lectures, assigned independent practice of the skills and content covered, and culminates in a final professional presentation delivered by the fellow. Alongside first year fellows from other sub-specialty training programs from the Graduate School of Medicine, the following topics are presented: research design, development of a research question using PICO, research methodology, database design and management, and statistical analysis.
Additional options for basic course work.
Additionally, given our close proximity to the University of Tennessee campus, fellows can take advantage of educational courses in biostatistics, epidemiology, and research design. The University of Tennessee also offers two exciting programs available to our fellows. A Graduate Certificate in Health Policy is available through the College of Nursing in collaboration with the Department of Public Health and the College of Law. This interdisciplinary graduate certificate program prepares leaders, practitioners, researchers, and educators to be active in various policymaking activities.* In addition, the Haslam College of Business offers a 1-year Physician Executive MBA program. The nationally-ranked program, which runs from January to December, is designed exclusively for physicians seeking management and business skills to lead healthcare organizations.*
*Fellows choosing to pursue a Master of Public Health, Graduate Certificate in Health Policy, or Executive MBA are responsible for the cost beyond the two courses provided by the fellowship program. However, financial assistance is available.
Quality Improvement (QI) projects in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology are performed with close collaboration with Quality Improvement Coordinator, Megan Lacy Young, and Quality Improvement Data Nurse, Tanika Edwards, in the Center for Women & Infants. Using existing practice standards and recommendations, this duo assists clinical staff to assess internal processes and outcomes related to Maternal Morbidity and Mortality. To promote health equity, each project stratifies data by social determinants of health and assess for gaps in patient outcomes that need to be addressed. The Department and Division of Obstetrics & Gynecology currently have over 15 QI IRB-approved projects. While all of these projects stem from institutional passions, some involve partnerships with the Tennessee Initiative for Perinatal Quality Care (TIPQC) and others involve partnerships at the national level. Using the QI lens, presentation and publication opportunities are ever growing and supported by Megan.
Current quality initiative topics within our division include:
Simulation is the imitation of real-life experience including the use of task and virtual reality trainers, as well as standardized patients to refine technical and clinical skills of healthcare professionals. At the UT Center for Advanced Medical Simulation, the goal is continual improvement in quality of patient care and safety through education, practice, and assessment. Simulation can replicate almost any diagnostic or therapeutic situation, from simple IV insertions using low-fidelity task technology to complicated surgeries using high-fidelity, computerized manikins or virtual reality modules.
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