Human Subjects…

What can I say? Human subjects are fantastic in that they provide information about the human body (obviously) that other animals cannot provide. Yes we can look at fruit flies and rats to suggest mechanisms for human development and diseases, but we cannot truly know what is happening inside the human body until we look at it. In that regard, I am thoroughly excited that my project this summer involves human subjects. Working with people, as well as human blood and plasma, is incredibly applicable to my future goals as a physician.  This project is teaching me to respect the privacy of human health information, and to respect the products that I remove from them.  I am very excited that my project is so educational to me, as well as to the public.

That being said…. human subjects are insanely difficult to work with.  Imagine that the rats you are working on suddenly didn’t show up that day to lab, or called you the night before saying “sorry I forgot to tell you that I have to work all this week, can we reschedule?”.  Scheduling, rescheduling, and shuffling subjects around to find a time that fits is EASILY the hardest part of my study. Yes, I have to collect, treat, and analyze human blood plasma samples, and then run some nasty statistics on it.. oh and then I get to write a 25 page manuscript.  BUT scheduling people is the bane of my existence. I love my subjects, don’t get me wrong.  Many of them are friends or teammates of mine, but no one really understands the difficulty of human subjects until they themselves get to work with them.  Please, if you ever volunteer for a human subject study, tell the researcher at least a week in advance if you need to reschedule.

I don’t want anyone to think that I am not enjoying myself. I chose to do this project BECAUSE it involved human subjects. I believe that my research findings will be incredibly relevant to many different people, and I am willing to shuffle schedules a bit to obtain that level of applicability.  Although at times, yes, I do wish I was working with fish, or rats, or flies, I also count myself as extremely lucky that I have the opportunity to do relevant and interesting research on human subjects at the undergraduate level.

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