The University of Chicago Hospitalist Project (UCHP)
The UCHP is a large clinical research infrastructure program that collects longitudinal data on all patients hospitalized on the general medicine services at UC. Since its founding, undergraduate Research Assistants (RAs) from the University of Chicago have worked on the UCHP daily from 8AM to 8PM for 365 days per year to recruit, consent, and collect patient-reported data through an in-person interview during hospitalization for all patients admitted to the UC general medicine services and collected patient-reported data from these patients by phone 1 month after hospital discharge. RAs can join the UCHP during any year of their undergraduate studies, they volunteer and/or work throughout the academic year and over the summer, and most RAs remain with the project until they graduate. RAs support and participate in all UCHP activities through an RA training pathway where they learn to recruit and consent patients, interview and collect patient-reported data, clean, maintain and analyze data. The most successful RAs are often hired as full time Research Coordinators (RCs) after graduation, where they spend 1-3 years supervising the RAs and daily UHCP operations and working closely with the investigators whose studies are supported by UCHP. The UCHP RAs and RCs come primarily from the University of Chicago and other Chicago area undergraduate institutions, though during the summer UCHP hosts undergraduate RAs from institutions across the US who are interested in the experiential clinical research opportunity. RAs and RCs who have worked on UCHP have gone on to pursue academic careers in nearly all the health professions.
The UCHP offers a once quarterly research symposium for RAs, in which an investigator who is using UCHP research infrastructure to collect data, describes their project and presents the results to date. RAs are also encouraged to attend interdisciplinary workshops and seminars held on UC’s campus that are led by many faculty who use UCHP data, including: 1) the Outcomes Research Workshop, 2) the Research in Progress seminar, and 3) the MacLean Center for Clinical and Medical Ethics weekly seminar.