Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Rotation 7: Lexicomp and Work From Home

Posted by Michael Harrison at Tuesday, January 24, 2017

I was very thankful that I received not only Lexicomp, but also with Steven Stout, someone with a technical background and someone immersed in the database management aspect of keeping this enormous drug information resource online.

Unlike most rotations, Lexicomp is a work-from-home. Typically, I met with my preceptor 2-3 times per week in various coffee shops in the Ann Arbor area for discussion of the work done so far, where to go from here, and do mini "topic-discussions" on topics related to the collection and organization of drug information resources. This includes statistics, study design, database design, information sources, how to vet information sources, searching (search terms, structure, narrowing results), and many, many more.

Work centers around the searching, collection, organization, and drafting of drug interaction monographs for inclusion in the Lexicomp Interactions database, as well as taking part in a number of longitudinal projects that his team is involved with. This includes migration to a new content management system and the thousands of tasks involved in that process, developing a tool that creates graphical summaries of queries to the OpenFDA API, among others.

This has been a very flexible rotation--work does not need to be done in an eight hour block so long as it gets done and during interview season (onsites for fellowships) this has been an incredible benefit as I can do work on the plane or in an airport or in a hotel in Seattle. That said, you will be tested on your time management skills as there is no external forces making you do anything! Self-motivation is a big plus!

One of the biggest benefits (as pointed out by other commentators) is the incredibly refinement of your literature search abilities. I had been doing this in a managed care setting for two years and still made leaps and bounds in my ability to careful craft queries (MeSH terms are the best) and iteratively refine my searches to maximize my relevant results. There have been many "mind-blown" moments when using PubMed, EMBASE, and other databases with these techniques, particularly when comparing how I used to construct a term versus my current method.

What has been incredibly cool is seeing the nuts and bolts of Lexicomp Interactions—how everything fits together and the methods that they use to keep their enormous quantity of data organized and maintained. My preceptor is truly a master of the craft and he has been an incredible mentor in developing some of my own skills in this area as well.

A typical day is what you make it, and there is tremendous flexibility in pursuing projects relevant to your interests! Highly recommended!

Michael Harrison (mhar)



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