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A clinical research student stands in portrait
September 17, 2018

Introducing… a clinical research assistant

Samantha Burwell is a student who also works as a clinical research assistant with the perioperative ischemia research team at Hamilton Health Sciences’ (HHS) Juravinski Hospital and with St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. She spent the last two summers with HHS and now works part time while studying nursing at McMaster University.

What do you do?

My team runs or is involved in many research studies at any given time. Recently, I worked on two studies: the HIP fracture Accelerated surgical Treatment And Care track (HIP ATTACK) trial and the Atrial Fibrillation Occurring Transiently with Stress studies.

As a clinical research assistant, I approach patients and explain the study to see if they want to participate. If so, I help answer their questions and get their consent. I also complete any follow-up appointments they have with us, usually over the phone. All the data I collect is analyzed once the study is over.

“My first day at Hamilton Health Sciences was a terrifying blur but was also exciting. It was my first day ever working in a hospital.”

What do you love most about your job?

I love working as a student in research because there are endless learning opportunities. There is always something new happening.

I meet several patients with different backgrounds and work with talented people every day. My job introduces me to the many different roles that exist throughout the hospital, which enriches my experience overall.

Who inspires you?

Each person working in a hospital makes a difference in patients’ lives. The reason I study nursing is so I can help people and make the same difference my colleagues make.

In my research role, I am part of a great team that could change and improve the life of a patient in the future. Even if it is in a small way, it inspires me to think I am a part of change.

Tell us about your first day at HHS.

My first day at HHS was a terrifying blur but was also exciting. It was my first day ever working in a hospital. I had not started any of my placements at school yet and the most experience I had in health care before this job was the occasional doctor’s appointment.

I got a tour of the hospital (and immediately forgot how to get anywhere) and was introduced to so many people that I couldn’t remember all their names. Each person I met was kind and helpful. Throughout the day, I tagged along with my boss and observed staff members’ daily routine, which included patient encounters.

My first day was really set the tone for a job that I grew to love.