LARAMIE — Despite the challenges posed by the ongoing global pandemic, second-year medical students from the Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, Idaho (WWAMI) Medical Education Program at the University of Wyoming presented their research projects as part of a virtual symposium.
The second annual symposium, presented Nov. 12, was divided into three “breakout rooms” where groups of students presented their summer research with the guidance of a faculty moderator.
During the event, Green River resident Daniel Lancaster gave a presentation on his piece called “Reduction of Alcohol Consumption in Sweetwater County, Wyo., through Internet-based Alcohol Interventions.”
Lancaster joined more than 60 attendees, including the 20 WWAMI students, who took part in the symposium, which provided students the opportunity to present research on a wide variety of topics, ranging from substance abuse in Wyoming to platelet-rich plasma treatment of Achilles tendinopathy to 3D printed degradable microneedles for controlled drug release in the central nervous system.
Emily Schmitt, a research adviser for the WWAMI program and assistant professor with the UW Division of Kinesiology and Health, served as a moderator for the “Scholarship of Discovery” breakout room, which included topics focusing on bench research.
Medical students in the second and third breakout rooms, moderated by WWAMI Director Tim Robinson and Marivern Easton, assistant director, presented their Rural/Underserved Opportunities Program (RUOP) projects.
RUOP is a four-week, elective immersion experience in community medicine for students between their first and second years of medical school. Topics included the use of telemedicine, reduction of suicide rates in Wyoming and suggestions for increasing health care access in the more rural communities of Wyoming.
“It’s terrific to see the turnout for our research symposium, especially given the fact that this event was held virtually due to the pandemic. Each year, our students are involved with compelling projects both within and outside Wyoming,” Robinson says. “Wyoming WWAMI students have a history of attracting national attention for their research projects.”
He says many of the students will be invited to present their research at the Western Student and Resident Medical Research Forum, held in Carmel, Calif., each January.
Advancements in medicine require the free exchange of ideas among those invested in the pursuit of better health outcomes for society, says Bradley Lutz, of Casper.
“I can imagine no greater venue than a research symposium to present one’s efforts to a broad demographic of health practitioners, nor the ability to receive instant feedback that steers successive generations of discovery,” Lutz says. “It is the leading edge of research today that will drive tomorrow’s improvements.”
The opportunity to conduct research as a medical student — whether clinical or experimental — is helpful in preparing medical students for future roles as clinicians and lifelong students of the scientific process, says Annie Smidt, from Sheridan.
“It was important for me to present my RUOP-III research because it gave me a sense of accomplishment and completion, which are some feelings that I think we’ve all been lacking since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Smidt says.
Robert Monger, clinical dean of the Wyoming WWAMI program and president of the Wyoming chapter of the American College of Physicians (ACP), served as a reviewer of the medical students’ presentations.
“Seeing these presentations from our students was very impressive, especially the attention given to our current health care challenges, including delivery of health care in a rural state such as Wyoming,” Monger says. “It was notable the attention given to telemedicine and the impacts it’s having on improving patient-physician communications in areas of our state where physical travel is often difficult.”
Two students received the Wyoming ACP Excellence Award for their presentations during the WWAMI research symposium: Amanda Galambas for “The Pediatric ‘Spine at Risk’ Program: 9-Year Review of a Novel Safety Screening Tool at a Single Institution,” and Lutz for “Social Interventions in Treatment of HIV/AIDS Population: Cheyenne, Wyo.”
Galambas and Lutz each received $500 from the ‘Scholarship of Discovery’ and RUOP breakout rooms, respectively.
Here’s a complete list of presentations, listed by hometowns, student names and project titles:
— Casper: Caleb Hardt, “Strategies to Reduce the Suicide Rate in Cody, Wyo.”; Bradley Lutz, “Social Interventions in Treatment of HIV/AIDS Population: Cheyenne, Wyo.”; Natasha Radosevich, “Improving Access to Quality Healthcare to People Experiencing Homelessness in Billings, Mont.”; Marley Realing, “Improving Access to Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder in Snohomish County, Wash.”; Chae Sutherland, “Adopting a Collaborative Care Approach to Increase Access to Mental Health Care in Evanston, Wyo.”; and Hayden True, “Telemedicine Solutions to Improve HIV PrEP Access in Fremont County, Wyo.”
— Cheyenne: Jacob Kennedy, “PRP Treatment of Achilles Tendinopathy”; Anthony Menghini, “3D-Printed Degradable Microneedles for Controlled Drug Release in Central Nervous System”; and Samantha Pettigrew, “Medical-Legal Partnerships to Prevent Homelessness in Sheridan County, Wyo.”
— Gillette: Amanda Galambas, “The Pediatric ‘Spine at Risk’ Program: 9-Year Review of a Novel Safety Screening Tool at a Single Institution”; and Perry Smith, “Improving the Patient Management of Hypertension by Utilizing Existing Community Assets in Goldendale, Wash.”
— Green River: Daniel Lancaster, “Reduction of Alcohol Consumption in Sweetwater County, Wyo., through Internet-based Alcohol Interventions.”
— Lander: Peter McCullough, “Reducing Impacts of Social Isolation in Assisted Care Facilities During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Thermopolis, Wyo.”
— Laramie: Tyler Loose, “Investigation of ITGAM on Fracture Development and Vertebral Morphology in Zebrafish”; and Lauren McVeigh, “Addressing Alcohol Use in Sundance, Wyo.”
— Pine Haven: Savanah Richter, “Using Technology to Decrease Teen Pregnancy in Douglas, Wyo.”
— Sheridan: Thomas Fenn, “Severity of Preoperative Anemia in Elective Intracranial Neurosurgical Procedures on Postoperative Outcomes”; and Annie Smidt, “Community-based Strategies to Prevent Skin Cancer in Park County, Wyo.”
— Worland: Larissa Siirila, “Aging-at-Home on the Range.”
— Wright: Michael Yeradi, “Addressing High Healthcare Costs in Powell, Wyo.”
For more information about WWAMI, visit the website at www.uwyo.edu/wwami/.