Yesterday I presented and defended my doctoral research and if you’ve never had to go through an experience of conducting, analyzing, writing, and then defending research at this level … well you just really need to experience it yourself to completely understand.
I won’t go into the nitty gritty details of my research, as it would be a book and not a blog post. Actually the final report was 177 pages so it was essentially a book. The topic of my research was “Characterization of Requests for Clinical Laboratory Consultation in a Tertiary Medical Center: A Retrospective Record Review”. I did extensive patient chart reviews on patients that had documented laboratory consultation to see who was requesting consultations, where patients were located when consultations were requested, what tests were consultations being requested on, what types of consultations were being requested (what test to order, test interpretation, etc), how complex were the consultations to respond to, and what were the patient outcomes from the consultation. Instead of boring you with any more details, let’s just say that the results were sufficient to begin developing practice guidelines, laboratory protocols, and continuing education programs for laboratory personnel, physicians, and other healthcare professionals. Let me just say that if you need assistance with research methodology and analysis, Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed Methods Approaches is an amazing book and was quite helpful – highly recommend!
But this research will not stop here. Part of the duties of a practicing DCLS professional is performing translational research – that is research that will affect professional practice, patient management, healthcare quality, and/or patient outcomes. This research will continue. As practice guidelines, protocols, and continuing education programs are instituted, research will need to continue to ensure that the changes made make a positive impact on healthcare. As more DCLS practitioners graduate, and more facilities begin to employ us, more diverse data can be combined with the data I’ve begun to accumulate to further refine professional practice guidelines. I look forward to working with other DCLS professionals as they begin to graduate over the next few years!
So while I may have defended (and passed!) my doctoral research, the research is not, and will never, be over. It will continue. Because it will go where no DCLS has gone before …