This summer, I spent two months in Providence, Rhode Island shadowing and performing research under Dr. Joey Weng, M.D., an assistant professor at Brown University. Three times a week, I observed him practicing family medicine at the Providence Community Health Center where they largely treated the local, underserved Hispanic and immigrant community. I spent over a hundred and forty hours observing the largely bilingual dynamics between doctor and patient. The benefit of family practice meant that people of all ages were treated, but ultimately infants and middle-aged and older community members were seen the most as they require the greatest care. I observed numerous check-up procedures, tests, and patient-doctor interactions that taught me the importance of professionality and maintaining composure even when there is a conflict of interest between a physician’s judgement and a patient’s demand.
When I was not in the clinic, I was often on the Brown campus or on College Hill cooling down in the many libraries that punctuated the greenery. There I studied the fundamentals of epidemiology to assist with Dr. Weng’s research project—a retrospective clinical observational study seeking to find a relationship between thyroid disorders and colorectal cancers. What made the study unique was its use of the Taiwanese National Insurance Research Database, which utilizes the statistical advantage of sampling from an entire population of people as nearly every citizen in Taiwan is under national healthcare and therefore documented. Through this population-based, case-control study involving over a hundred thousand patients, we have discovered a protective effect against colorectal cancer for patients with hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism despite treatment. I interpreted the data, wrote the first draft of the manuscript for the paper, and made revisions while I was in the first semester of my sophomore year. The results were then presented through a poster at the 88th annual meeting of the American Thyroid Association in Washington DC, and the paper is currently being submitted for review for publication where I will be listed as first-coauthor. I am immensely thankful for Dr. Weng for providing this amazing opportunity, and for my family for supporting me throughout this endeavor.