NeuroSKILL Involvement in the UCD School of Medicine and Medical Science Student Summer Research Awards

Tue, 30 September 14 13:45

Each year, the UCD School of Medicine and Medical Science invites undergraduate students to undertake supervised research projects during the summer semester to in line with the School's ambition to produce not just exceptional healthcare practitioners, but also life-long learners and world-class medical researchers.  

This year over 75 students undertook eight week supervised laboratory, clinical or patient-advocate projects in Ireland or at one of UCD’s international partner institutions. The students then compete for the Student Summer Research Awards (SSRA) through poster and oral presentations based on their work. 

The NeuroSKILL team were delighted to offer places to two SSRA students this summer. From over 30 applications two students were selected; Hannah Featherstone, a graduate entry to medicine (GEM) student and a qualified radiation therapist, conducted a qualitative research project on the information that people with dementia, their caregivers and family members would like to obtain from a website on neuroimaging in dementia. The research involved carrying out numerous interviews with caregivers of people with dementia as well as a focus group with people diagnosed with dementia.  The data from the interviews and focus group were transcribed and a thematic analysis performed. Ian Kelly, a stage 4 undergraduate medicine student, conducted a survey on the use of dementia-specific protocols among radiography services in Ireland which included the development of an online questionnaire, the creation a database of imaging centres in Ireland for the survey distribution, as well as the statistical analysis of the data.

Both research projects have contributed greatly to the NeuroSKILL project. The insights gained from Hannah’s research will assist NeuroSKILL in providing information on neuroimaging in dementia on the NeuroSKILL website that is relevant to people affected by dementia and in a format that is accessible to them. The results of Ian’s research will aid in the development of specific protocols for neuroimaging in dementia.

I have benefitted extensively from my experience as a student researcher with the UCD NeuroSKILL team; understanding the perspective of the person with dementia, their carers and family members through interviews and a focus group has shaped my view of the condition, and how we talk to those who are affected by it. Not only have I expanded my knowledge about neuroimaging in dementia, I have also improved my scientific analysis, report writing and presentation skills. In addition to this, I have made research contacts throughout this project that I know will prove invaluable as I continue on my medical education.

Hannah Featherstone (GEM Student)

The NeuroSKILL team in UCD was very kind and helpful to me throughout the course of the research project. There was a lot of work involved to make this project a success, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the collaboration of the entire team. I have learned a lot from the experience, including: how to work effectively in a research team, how to optimise response rates, and how to analyse data efficiently and correctly. I now have a much greater insight into the significant background effort required to gather and produce research data. I am very grateful to have assisted in the NeuroSKILL Project, and I look forward to meeting more of the NeuroSKILL team in the future.

Ian Kelly (Undergraduate Medicine Student)

Both students received a student summer research scholarship supported by the EU ERDF INTERREG 4A Ireland Wales scheme. NeuroSKILL would like to thank Hannah and Ian for their extremely valuable contributions and wishes them all the best for the future.