Morgan Hopp, a medical student from Los Angeles, found that summoning the courage to engage in research work that required exploring unfamiliar territory built confidence, knowledge, and led to “amazing opportunities.”
Courage to explore built medical student’s research career
Morgan Hopp’s long involvement in research projects has led to her current focus on geriatric care. The Creighton University School of Medicine student, who is part of the Class of ’25, says she learned that summoning the courage to engage in research work that required exploring unfamiliar territory. Her research built confidence and knowledge, and it led to “amazing opportunities.”
We asked her some questions:
Where are you from?
Los Angeles, California.
Why is research important to you?
Research gives me the opportunity to be creative while engaging in deep thought. Some projects allow creative problem solving while others require a creative take on project design. I genuinely enjoy thinking deeply about a topic, especially if it has direct impact on patient care, and then establishing questions around that topic and finally designing projects to answer those questions. Research lets me engage in the world in the way that best suits my skill set and interest and put all of it on display in a way to improve overall understanding in the field.
Would you recommend research to incoming students?
Take any opportunity that comes! If you have the basic skill set to do the job, be curious and courageous enough to fill in your knowledge gaps as you go. I had no direct prior experience in the biggest research opportunities I have had. I knew I had the critical thinking skills and logic to complete the project, but beyond that, everything was new. Every project has been an adventure, each incredible in its own way — from finding amazing mentors, to learning how to build multi-disciplinary collaboration, to presenting at national conferences. When asked to work on a little aspect of a project, you never know what will come next.
I’ve been lucky enough that a few of my big projects have not only been amazing opportunities but have introduced me to fields of medicine I wish to pursue further. Be curious and be courageous in all of your learning.
What kind of research are you doing?
My two major projects currently focus on trauma surgery in the geriatric population.
The first concerns risk stratification of geriatric and near-geriatric — that is, slightly younger — trauma patients. The end goal is to increase access to services for our high-risk, near-geriatric trauma patients. The second concerns palliative medicine in the care of geriatric trauma patients. The project aims to understand the barriers, from the perspective of a trauma surgeon to collaborating with the palliative medicine team.
Both projects have strong implications for improving quality of life of geriatric trauma patients after discharge, which has become the academic field of most interest to me.
What are your plans after graduating? How is this research helping you reach your goals?
I plan on attending a general surgery residency program with a research component. I suspect I will take the research track and participate in two years as a research fellow in the middle of my residency. I hope to continue making research a significant part of my academic and professional career. I look forward to the opportunity to participate and potentially facilitate large-scale, multi-site prospective studies.