Where Are They Now?

Research Volunteer Program Alumni

Since starting in 2010, the Hennepin County Medical Center Research Volunteer Program has hosted numerous volunteers who have continued on with their medical careers. Below are just a few of the many volunteers we have heard back from!

Nakul Aggarwal

Picture1How did you first hear about the Research Volunteer Program?

“I participated in a study abroad program during my sophomore year of college, and a fellow classmate of mine mentioned her involvement in the Program. I was intrigued and inquired more about it from her and other RVs. It seemed like a pretty unique experience so I applied the very next cycle!”.

What was your favorite part of being a Research Volunteer?

“The opportunity to interact with some of the brightest students and physicians from across the state (and the country) was definitely the highlight of the Program for me. The kind, outgoing, and teaching-oriented nature of the HCMC EM residents made the clinical research process very fulfilling. In addition, I really enjoyed observing the care-taking styles of each resident and their decision-making strategies in high stress STAB situations.”.

What are you up to now?

“I graduated from the U of M in May 2016 and am now enrolled in the Medical Scientist Training Program (MD/PhD) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I hope to take advantage of the exposure to clinical research I received at HCMC to do some translational research in neuroscience as a graduate student and ultimately pursue a career as a physician-investigator.”.

How did your experience as a Research Volunteer influence your career path?

“I would cite the RA Program as one of the most formative experiences I had as an undergraduate. Although I was involved in medically-oriented research at the University, the clinical experience in the HCMC ED was special in that it was able to show me a very clear link between scientific investigation and improved patient care. I found that connection to be extremely exciting and, naturally, it served as a key factor playing into my decision to pursue the dual degree path.”.

Alexandra Schick


How did you first learn about the Research Volunteer Program?

“Another student at the University of Minnesota mentioned that the Hennepin County Medical Center Research Volunteer Program was a great way to learn about clinical research and emergency medicine. I checked out the program online, and decided to apply!”.

What was your favorite part of being a Research Volunteer?

“My favorite part of the program was collecting data for the rapid paced studies (such as the intubation and sedation studies) that involved multiple research volunteer working together. It was exciting to work as a team to capture a great amount of data over a short period of time. In general, these topics are difficult to study as events happen very quickly and on an urgent to emergent basis; therefore, research volunteer are essential to studying certain clinical questions about intubation and sedation.”.

What are you up to now?

“I recently graduated from the University of Minnesota Medical School (2016) and I am in my first year of my emergency medicine residency at Brown. I’m still involved in a few research projects at Hennepin County Medical Center, and I look forward to further developing my clinical research skills as a resident!”.

Paige Reinfeld

How did you first learn about the Research Volunteer Program?

“During my first year of college, I started volunteering in a hospital and got a nursing assistant job, after which I decide to pursue being a physician. My grades and scores were fairly average so I wanted to find something to stand out. I started to look for some sort of research experience. I was super frustrated trying to find research that actually dealt with patients and improving medicine so I was really excited to become a research volunteer after seeing the website.”.

What was your favorite part of being a Research Volunteer?

“Being a research volunteer taught me the basics of clinical research and I was so surprised how much can be learned about medicine just from observing. I was offered a coordinator position after being a research volunteer for about a year and a half so I got to become more involved with research, work with physicians, and even come up with some of my own projects.”.

What are you up to now?

“I applied to medical school for the entering class of 2016. As it got later in the application cycle and I kept not hearing back from any of the schools I had sent secondaries to, I started to look into other routes such as doing some sort of post-baccalaureate or masters program to boost my application. I was eventually accepted to TouroCOM in New York to complete a masters with a conditional acceptance into their DO program the following year pending a 3.5 GPA – one of the only linked programs in the country! So although it’s not the traditional route everyone pictures when applying, it’s all the opportunity I needed. Where there’s a will there’s a way!”.

Sarah Usher


How did you first learn about the Research Volunteer Program?

“I got involved in the Research Volunteer Program in the Summer of 2012. My cousin was in the program during the summer of 2009, and he mentioned it to me after I graduated in 2011. I applied the next spring and was accepted for the summer term!”.

What was your favorite part of being a Research Volunteer?

“Being a research volunteer was very exciting. I had volunteered in the East Bank ED at Fairview for a while, but this was my first experience with an urban patient population. I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with these people, and the cases were usually completely different from what I’d see at Fairview. For me, one of the best parts was performing studies in the stabilization room. The cases were so varied, and it was impressive to hear the residents discuss the clinical situation with the attending physicians. I believe it was a great insight into the world of medical decision-making.”.

What are you up to now?

“After about a year in the program, I was asked to apply for the position of research coordinator, which I began in December of 2013. It’s been an eye-opening experience learning about the aspects of research that happen behind the scenes. I’ve definitely grown to appreciate the vast amount of work that goes into the development, execution, and analysis of research studies, and I hope to move into an investigator role someday as an MD. I was just accepted to the University of Minnesota Medical School (2016) and will be expecting my first child in August 2016!”.