Students interested in health care might not always expect to get involved in conducting new research. But for many students at National University of Health Sciences, research often becomes an important aspect of their time here.
While a student, Matthew Budavich, DC, (NUHS ’16) was surprised by his interest in research, which actually came about by accident after he took a job as a research assistant at the university.
The chance to work with Gregory Cramer, DC, PhD, who is dean of the department of research and at the forefront of research, was intimidating yet exciting, Dr. Budavich said.
He found himself really enjoying the work they were doing together. After working as a research assistant for a year, Dr. Budavich continued to work with Dr. Cramer for another two and half years, this time as a research fellow.
“It was one of the best experiences during my time at school,” he said.
As a research fellow, Dr. Budavich dedicated about 10-20 hours to research each week during the trimester. After graduating last year, Dr. Budavich recently returned to campus to complete the last part of a research project two years in the making.
Dr. Budavich and Dr. Cramer are testing the reliability and validity of methods used in the lab’s previous research assessing zygapophyseal joint (Z joint) cavitation and crepitus. The previous research found that cavitation was related to Z joint gapping from manipulation. Gapping theoretically allows the Z joints to move better. Crepitus, joints sounds during normal motion that may not always be heard by the patient, may be an indicator of Z joint function.
In 2015, a research poster about the project was chosen for presentation at the American Association of Anatomists (AAA) Regional Meeting. Dr. Budavich and Dr. Cramer also plan to submit the results to the AAA Experimental Biology meetings scheduled in April in Chicago.
At National University, fellowships are just one of many ways NUHS students can get involved with research projects. Research fellows also have the unique opportunity to work with expert faculty like Dr. Cramer and many others.
Over the years, Dr. Cramer has been an advisor to about 20 research fellows. “The research I conduct with students goes far beyond their time at NUHS,” he said. “Often the work can inspire students to carry the research forward as they go on to work elsewhere.”
Aside from his contributions to the field of chiropractic, Dr. Budavich’s research at NUHS has had other rewards. Dr. Budavich said that research changed the way he thinks about patients, to question why certain treatments work or don’t work and how to connect the dots.
“The research I conducted excited me for the profession,” he said. “It gave me a passion for the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of what we do as chiropractors.”
While research can be a time-consuming, intensive process, Dr. Budavich added that the results are worth it. The validity and reliability project, in particular, could affect other chiropractic research in the years to come.
“We’re laying the foundation for work that could be very meaningful in the future,” he said.