Emergency Department Research Coordinator Program celebrates 5 years of service

In 2016, the Emergency Department Research Coordinator (EDRC) Program launched within the BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine. The EDRC program’s portfolio has expanded tremendously since its inception. Over five years, the program has completed 17 research studies and operational projects and enrolled over 3,800 patients, with ten additional studies concurrently underway in the emergency department. It is fair to say that the EDRC Program’s current recruiting shifts bear little resemblance to those back when it had two studies in its portfolio!

At the core of its successful growth over the last five years is the ED Research Coordinators, many of whom find the experience a valuable stepping stone to careers in medicine and research.

We invite you to explore more about these individuals and how the program aims to support aspiring clinicians and researchers.

What is the EDRC Program?

The Emergency Department Research Coordinator (EDRC) Program is a cutting-edge resource available to researchers across the University of Wisconsin-Madison which places highly trained staff members in the emergency department environment to screen, consent, and enroll patients and visitors into research studies and complete research protocols. The program aims to support the conduct of high-impact clinical and translational research by providing investigators with efficient and effective research services.

For what types of research studies does the EDRC Program enroll patients?

The EDRC Program has worked on research projects funded by federal, foundation, and industry sponsors and with researchers from a wide variety of Schools, Colleges and Departments across the UW-Madison campus. Studies are not limited to emergency medicine and can have any funding source.

The inaugural study for which the EDRC (then called ED Research Enroller) Program enrolled patients was Dr. Manish Shah’s care transitions R01 research grant, which sought to evaluate a paramedic coaching intervention for older adults discharged from the emergency department. Not long after, the program began recruiting for a second study initiated within the department led by Dr. Sara Damewood, which assessed longitudinal heart and lung ultrasound findings in the phases of septic shock.

It didn’t take long before the EDRC Program was collaborating with partners across the UW campus, including the School of Nursing, College of Engineering, Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (UW ICTR), and the Departments of Medicine and Family Medicine and Community Health within the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

In addition to supporting novel research within the department, the EDRC Program also assists with quality improvement projects and initiatives at UW Health. These projects have included conducting patient surveys regarding FCA implementation, assisting nursing staff with completing COVID-19 forms in the early days of the pandemic, and supporting care teams with infection control measures and isolation precautions.

Does the EDRC Program support research from outside the UW-Madison campus?

In addition to partnering with many UW Schools, Colleges and Departments, the EDRC Program has recruited and completed research protocols for studies with five separate industry partners and two universities over the last five years. A full list of research studies the EDRC has worked on is available here.

In one of its first industry studies, the EDRC Program enrolled participants for a protocol that evaluated the performance of a new MRSA diagnostic test that used novel technology to detect Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacterial colonization, a widespread cause of hospital-acquired infections defined as a serious antibiotic-resistant threat by the CDC.

In December 2019, the FDA authorized the marketing of this new test, which may allow health care professionals to evaluate patients for colonization with MRSA bacteria more quickly than traditional culture-based techniques, aiding in the prevention and control of MRSA infections in healthcare settings.

How does the EDRC Program work?

The program has also made tremendous strides regarding the services it is able to provide over the last five years. Initially, the EDRC Program began by conducting informed consent and completing surveys in the emergency department. Now in 2021, in addition to those tasks the team routinely collaborates with department nursing staff to collect blood and other biospecimens.

The EDRC team is also trained to take physical measurements, conduct dysphagia screening tests, and to collect nasopharyngeal swabs and point-of-care blood tests. ED Research Coordinators can place orders in Health Link, utilize UW Health’s state-of-the-art electronic health record recruiting tools, and have established best practice alerts to improve efficiencies in study enrollment.

Who are the ED Research Coordinators?

The success of the EDRC Program has largely been driven by the dedication, commitment, and skill of the more than 20 research coordinators it has employed since the program’s inception in 2016.

Research coordinators stay with the program an average of 12-18 months before pursuing additional education or professional careers in medicine and research fields. Ten coordinators have been accepted to medical school or physician assistant programs at prestigious universities and colleges, including the University of Wisconsin, Medical College of Wisconsin, University of Albany, Creighton University, University of Maryland, Midwestern University, and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Additionally, three coordinators have completed or been accepted to the Masters of Public Health program at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, while several others are working in professional research positions either within the department, UW-Madison and its affiliates, or the pharmaceutical industry.

How is the EDRC Program helping to prepare individuals for a variety of career paths?

Along with its mission to support clinical and translational research, the EDRC Program aims to serve as a career pipeline for our research coordinators to successful and fulfilling careers in medical or professional research. Working as an ED Research Coordinator offers individuals an on-the-ground perspective on what it’s like to be a physician researcher or research professional. Exposure to a wide variety of research methods—including qualitative interviews, surveys, devices, medical records reviews—provides experience in the day-to-day realities of human subjects research and helps to develop skills in recruiting and consenting patients in a dynamic clinical setting. Direct patient contact also helps these future clinicians and researchers feel more confident working with diverse populations of patients.

The Department of Emergency Medicine is extremely proud to be able to mentor and support our research coordinators in the early phases of their careers while fulfilling its core mission to advance ED-based research at UW and beyond. Congratulations to the Emergency Department Research Coordinators Program for hitting an incredible milestone of five years of service!

Interested in learning more about services or employment with the Emergency Department Research Coordinator program? Download a brochure of our services or contact Rebecca Schwei, MPH with questions at rschwei@medicine.wisc.edu or by phone at 608-263-6690.