This summer, I had the pleasure of working on Dr. Liisa Hantsoo’s Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) study at the Penn Center for Women’s Behavioral Wellness (PCWBW). Under the guidance of my PI and CRC, I was tasked with different responsibilities and gained skills such as RedCap data entry, phone screening participants, urine drug testing, pipetting blood for hormone analysis and assisting with laboratory visits.
Aside from working on the PMDD study, I also had the opportunity to participate in educational activities within PCWBW. During didactics which was scheduled for every Tuesday, I learned about the real life importance of research of women’s health by staff on the PCWBW team presented. During journal club which was scheduled once a month, the PCWBW team and I went over a journal article and then a clinician presented a clinical case that related to the article. In addition to offering an opportunity for a fruitful discussion about research that was going on outside of the center, it was a great way to get to see the "real world" application of our day-to-day work. I was also able to present an article along with the other interns on the “Predictors and Consequences of Negative Patient-Provider Interactions Among a Sample of African American Sexual Minority Women”, which shed light on a population often underrepresented in research.
Participating in this project greatly contributed to my educational experience here at Penn. As a neuroscience major who also had a strong interest in women’s health, I was able to combine both my educational background and personal passion in one place. Through the PMDD study specifically, I learned from participants how disabling the condition is and the need for effective treatment. This research project and working at the PCWBW, I learned how urgent and vital it is to have research that is inclusive and specific to women. It reinforced my passion to go into medicine and become a physician who focuses on increasing equitable care for all populations. Because of this experience, I plan to continue doing research on the disparities on women’s health issues.