Throughout this summer, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. David Chung and learn about both the intricacies of pediatrics and the research process. Dr. Chung is a pediatrician who works at Pediatric Associates of Brockton and is the founder and CEO of the company Dover Lifesciences. I was able to shadow Dr. Chung at his pediatric practices in West Bridgewater, Hansen, and Brockton and have helped to develop a new research project that we started this summer.
The first step to developing a research topic is to identify a problem. As a primary care pediatrician, Dr. Chung noticed a pattern within his pool of patients regarding the frequency of strep throat. He observed that some children get strep all of the time and within the families of these children there are often parents and siblings that have repeatedly gotten strep. The problem was identified through making observations of patients and their families as he continued to see pediatric patients.
I was able to witness this process and see how Dr. Chung made his observations. As the weeks progressed and I became more comfortable and experienced, I began participating in the preliminary evaluations of the patients and interacting more with the families. Dr. Chung and I would first listen to the patient’s heart and lungs and then proceed to look into the patient's eyes and ears. Dr. Chung explained to me all of the steps that he took to diagnose and examine patients, and I helped to both talk to the families and talk through the areas of concern.
The majority of the children that we saw were kids coming into the office for their yearly physicals, but I was also able to see a handful of sick visits. Dr. Chung walked me through his process of evaluating and eventually diagnosing the patients. It was important to consider multiple factors such as the time of year, how common different diseases are, and what systems are being affected. A common problem that we encountered was swimmer's ear. I became comfortable with the evaluation and diagnosis of swimmer’s ear due to the quantity and frequency of the problem. Dr. Chung allowed me to enter a room by myself and I completed the initial examination while asking the family questions such as when the pain started and how long it lasted. Through this experience, I was able to build confidence in my skills regarding both my examination and my ability to talk with the families.
During many of the visits, we were able to talk to families about recurring patterns of strep within the families. It was interesting to see Dr. Chung’s hypothesis come to life as within many of the families there was both a parent and a child that frequently got strep.
While I was shadowing Dr. Chung, I was also doing research on our project. Beginning the research process took lots of work, as we had to read through different scientific articles on Alzheimer’s Disease in order to gain knowledge on the steps needed for a genome-wide association study. As I read through the articles, I was to take notes and decide which references would be helpful for us to pursue and what the next lead would be. I would then search the internet to find the articles that I designated as helpful. There were some difficulties such as if the article was not available for free online, but the majority of the articles were available and ready for me to print and read through.
I also assisted in attempting to network and receive grants. Dr. Chung and I reached out to multiple different people and organizations as we tried to find help to fund and to understand the intricacies of our project. We reached out to people with questions regarding funding, pricing, and the process needed to complete our study. Although not all of the emails were successful, a lot of our information about how we should continue was gained within these emails. Other companies and people to reach out to were recommended to us. Although none of the leads were extremely helpful in receiving funds, they were helpful because the people we reached out to were able to answer a lot of our questions and help us to get the groundwork of the project done.
The intention for this project is to test the legitimacy of Dr. Chung’s idea. In order to continue with the testing, however, we need to receive funding. Dr. Chung estimates the overall cost of the materials and testing to be about $30,000-$40,000, so the obvious next step for us is to continue to search for grants in order to fund the project. If we do test his hypothesis and a genetic determinate is responsible for strep infections, there is an opportunity to pursue further research to predict susceptibility of one child versus another and potentially develop preventative measures to protect families against strep throat or other more severe strep infections.
My time with Dr. Chung was invaluable to my learning and career experience. I was able to study and assist in such a wide variety of topics which gave me a good idea of many of the aspects within the medical world. I want to thank Mr. Schlenker, Dr. Chung, and the rest of Dr. Chung’s medical staff for making this opportunity possible and for being so welcoming. My overall experience with Dr. Chung was very rewarding, and I am excited to continue to learn more about the medical field.