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Hayden Hundley, a senior medical student at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, will be graduating this May with research honors.
The Research Honors Program is available in the USA College of Medicine for medical students who desire to conduct in-depth research in an area of the health sciences. The program consists of selecting a project, selecting a mentor, preparing a manuscript for submission to a peer review journal, and giving an oral presentation on research findings.
“I feel fortunate that I had the opportunity to conduct research under the guidance of supportive faculty at the USA College of Medicine,” Hundley said. “The Research Honors Program provided me with a wealth of knowledge and experience that extends beyond the classroom and is applicable in future academic and clinical practice.”
Hundley initiated his interest in research through the Medical Student Research Program at USA, which supports medical student research prior to the first year and between the freshman and sophomore years of medical school.
Starting with the Medical Student Summer Research Program, Hundley said extra time and effort was required to balance regular duties of a medical student with an on-going research project. “However, the autonomy provided by the Research Honors Program allows students the flexibility to conduct research without necessarily taking away from studies or school-related activities,” he said. “I thoroughly enjoyed working on this project during the past three years.”
Hundley’s research project centered on toilet training children with autism. “Many children with autism are often markedly delayed in achieving this skill, causing a significant amount of stress for both the child and caregivers,” Hundley said. “Specifically, our study focused on the perspectives of parents who had successfully toilet trained children with autism and how this group differs from typical children with regard to bladder and bowel control.”
Hundley chose Dr. Hanes Swingle, professor of pediatrics at the USA College of Medicine and director of the Autism Diagnostic Clinic, as his project mentor. “Working with Dr. Swingle was absolutely a wonderful experience,” Hayden said. “Reflecting on the outstanding faculty who have taught me through the years, Dr. Swingle stands out among those who have made the most meaningful impact me and my education.”
Hundley said it is rare to have the opportunity to work closely with a faculty member over the course of multiple years. “When I learned Dr. Swingle and I shared backgrounds in public health and pediatric research, I felt that working with him would be a great fit for me,” Hundley added. “I learned something new from him daily, whether it was about pediatrics or pearls of wisdom about life.”
Part of Hundley’s research experience included sharing research findings through podium and poster presentations at professional meetings in Orange Beach, Ala., San Diego and Washington D.C.
Hundley emphasized that students with the slightest interest in research should consider being involved in one of the multiple research opportunities at USA. “This experience provided me with a deeper understanding of research and problem solving,” he said, “which makes me more confident and driven to pursue additional research opportunities in the future.”
Senior medical students at the University of South Alabama gathered March 20, 2015, at the Mobile Convention Center to find out this year’s Match Day results and the next step in their medical training. At the event, Hundley matched in anesthesiology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pittsburgh. Hundley will graduate May 9, 2015, from the USA College of Medicine.
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