This summer I had the privilege of working as a research assistant in the Health Care Management Department through a program funded by the Wharton Public Policy Initiative. Working as an RA under the direction of Professor Kolstad, I was able to apply my interest in economics and health care to several of his projects, thereby enriching my academic pursuits with hands-on research experience.
The majority of my work involved using statistics to show that there are regional differences associated with the cost of heart attack treatment. After reading many economic and medical papers and writing just as many literature reviews, I applied my newly-acquired knowledge of treatment cost variations to data pertaining to my project. The statistics courses that I enjoyed as part of the Wharton business core, particularly the lessons in regression and graphing, proved invaluable to my summer’s work. At the same time, I expanded my understanding of statistics and econometrics by working with the program Stata. Since I had no programming experience before this summer, it was challenging to learn how to code, yet I am now grateful to have acquired this new skill. Another rewarding aspect of the WPPI summer research program was the opportunity to engage directly with Wharton faculty.
I am intrigued by the complexity of our health care system, especially the myriad factors beside medicine that motivate a patient’s treatments and costs. The research I was involved in during this summer afforded me the opportunity to explore the nexus between medicine and economics. It was an invigorating experience and one that I intend to build upon as I combine my undergraduate Wharton education with a future in health care.