Student Hospitalist Scholars: Preventing unplanned PICU transfers

Medical student designs a project to improve patient care and safety.


Editor’s Note: The Society of Hospital Medicine’s (SHM’s) Physician in Training Committee launched a scholarship program in 2015 for medical students to help transform health care and revolutionize patient care. The program has been expanded for the 2017-2018 year, offering two options for students to receive funding and engage in scholarly work during their first, second, and third years of medical school. As a part of the program, recipients are required to write about their experiences on a biweekly basis.

I’m a rising second year medical student working this summer on a project to determine predictors for pediatric clinical deterioration and unplanned transfers to the pediatric ICU.

We’re hoping to identify characteristics of the pediatric population that is more prone to these unplanned transfers, as well as determine what clinical signs serve as reliable warnings so that an intervention can be designed to prevent these emergency transfers.

Farah Hussain, second year medical student at the University of Cincinnati  and student researcher at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medicine

Farah Hussain

Our objectives are twofold: describe the incidence of the transfers, as well as the clinical characteristics mentioned above, and conduct a case-control study comparing outcomes of the emergency transfer cases with matched controls.

So far, I have been searching the literature for what current interventions exist to prevent pediatric clinical deterioration. I have been reading about rapid response teams and their effectiveness in preventing codes, as well as what measures are used to evaluate the condition of a pediatric patient who is at risk for clinical deterioration. It is clear that more investigation is needed to identify reliable predictors that indicate a possible ICU transfer for the child patient.

I was interested in this project, and in quality improvement, because of its power to directly improve patient care and safety. It is vital to identify and fix problems that are preventable. It is directly related to the work of the physician, and the interprofessional collaboration aspect is key to improve communication that directly affects the patients’ outcomes.

I was introduced to the field during the past year in medical school, and this prompted me to start looking for research projects in the hospital medicine department at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. I was connected with Patrick Brady, MD, an attending physician in the division of hospital medicine at Cincinnati Children’s, whose work involves studying patient safety. His goals of investigating how to prevent clinical deterioration in pediatric patients aligned with what I wanted to learn during my research experience.

After partnering with my primary mentor, Dr. Brady, we discussed how the Student Hospitalist Scholar Grant would be a good fit for me, so I decided to apply.

I am excited to continue this experience this summer, as I believe it would not only educate me about applying interventions to better patient care but also about medicine in general. I plan to carry on and apply these lessons learned during my third year of medical school for rotations.

Farah Hussain is a second year medical student at the University of Cincinnati and student researcher at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Her research interests involve bettering patient care in vulnerable populations.

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