Internal medicine resident captures honor in clinical research

88th Medical Group

Maj. Phil Cushman, operational internal medicine resident at Wright-Patterson Medical Center, has been named the 2022 resident fellow poster winner by the American College of Physicians.

The National Abstract Competition, held April 28-30 in Chicago, is in conjunction with the internal medicine meeting, a national conference for internal medicine doctors across the United States.

“Each year, tens of thousands of internal medicine physicians submit their abstracts for consideration,” said Lt. Col. Kathryn Burtson, director of the 88th Healthcare Operations Squadron’s Internal Medicine Residency Program. “Winning the research poster competition at the National American College of Physicians meeting is a tremendous accomplishment.”

Cushman’s yearlong study, titled “Improving Performance on Night Shift: A Study of Sleep Transition Strategies,” looked at the sleep strategies residents use to transition from day shift to night shift and how those schedules affected their performance.

“My interest in this area started during my time as a flight surgeon with the RQ-4 Global Hawk Squadron,” he said. “Similar to residents and nurses in the hospital, the RQ-4 pilots also have 24-hour operations, and my prior sleep research helped optimize the schedule for the pilots’ performance.”

The research is on optimizing night shift performance, as multiple studies have shown that work has a negative impact on alertness, productivity and cognitive abilities.

He also looked at a number of other factors, including caffeine and sleep-aid use, hours of weekend sleep and weekends off.

Cushman found that residents who slept an average of at least nine continuous hours prior to starting their first night shift had the best performance.

“My hope is that this research will be useful not just for hospital workers, but for all career fields with night operations,” he said.

Cushman won in the abstract category of clinical research, which is defined as patient-oriented. This research is conducted with human subjects or on material of human origin.

He is scheduled for a permanent change of station to Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, where he will be the chief of aerospace medicine.

“Following Tyndall, I plan to pursue either a residency in aerospace medicine or a fellowship in sleep medicine, or both,” he added.

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