Experiencing Research Hands-On

The specialty of emergency medicine cares for acutely sick and injured patients. Research in emergency medicine addresses the most basic issues in clinical medical care. An urban emergency department provides a broad array of medical services that range from acute severe trauma and heart attacks to a "safety net" for those with no other access to the medical-care system. Research in this setting can identify fundamental issues of health-care delivery and can improve the quality of emergency care for patients.

UC Davis Medical Center is a 613-bed hospital that is the primary teaching site for UC Davis School of Medicine. It is the largest hospital in inland Northern California and the only Level 1 trauma or burn center for this section of the state. It is among the busiest trauma centers in the entire country. The emergency department cares for approximately 70,000 patients per year and is the primary teaching site for the emergency medicine residency training program. Experience in this environment is an outstanding way to find out if you might enjoy a future career in the health-care professions.

The UC Davis Department of Emergency Medicine is very actively involved in clinical research. The Emergency Medicine Research Associate Program (EMRAP) was created in 2000 by the emergency medicine faculty to support the research initiatives of the emergency department. It is a unique opportunity to participate in clinical research, observe emergency department operations, and learn from the physicians, nurses and staff of the emergency department. The research associate position is an important responsibility requiring maturity, initiative, diligence and excellent interpersonal skills.

There are many benefits to being a research associate. Associates gain experience conducting medical research and learn emergency department systems and operations. In addition, associates have the opportunity to work alongside medical school faculty (This can be a good opportunity to meet individual faculty and get letters of recommendation for medical school, other graduate or professional schools). In addition, EMRAP routinely provides letters of reference for those students who fulfill the obligation of the position. The letters of reference provide an explanation of the research associate program and the involvement of research associates in the clinical patient-care environment, as well as involvement with the research studies. In addition, letters are often individualized to each student, depending upon performance, completion of requirements, and individual interests. If you would like to request a letter of reference, see one of the program directors. You may also request letters from individual faculty members if working with them on a specific project.

The data collected by the research associates are analyzed and interpreted by the emergency medicine research faculty and their associates in support of a number of ongoing studies and continuous quality improvement projects (CQI). Whether the studies yield a new application to the emergency department or long term procedural changes in emergency medicine, the benefits lead to medical knowledge and ultimately superior patient care. Normally, the level of research associates participation in these clinical studies does not warrant authorship on the resultant publications. However, the assistance and participation of individual research associates is often noted in the acknowledgment section of the manuscript. In addition, opportunities do exist for research associates to become more extensively involved in individual projects or to propose their own projects, which could result in eventual authorship for the individual.

Application Process

  • Our application can be found here
  • EMRAP typically recruits UC Davis students during:
    • Late January to early February for Spring quarter
    • Late August to early September for Fall quarter
    • Late October to early November for Winter quarter
  • EMRAP recruits Non-UC Davis students as summer interns. Summer interns are not required to stay for 2 terms, just the summer.

For more information, email the Chief RA toward the end of April.


  • Provide the undergraduate student with hands on experience in performing clinical research by actually participating in the conduct of that research.
  • Provide an introduction to the basic concept and design of clinical research studies in the medical field.
  • Provide direct experience in an acute medical care environment, the UC Davis Department of Emergency Medicine. (This could be of particular interest to those aspiring to a career in the health care field.)

Internship Requirements

  • Completion of required readings.
  • Attendance at EMRAP research design lectures
    • Once a week for new RAs and once a quarter for continuing RAs.
  • Completion of written tests.
    • Tests cover basic elements of ongoing clinical research study protocols, relevant administrative aspects of the EMRAP program. The final exam includes selected basic clinical research concepts taken directly from the reading.
  • Perform a computer-based or library literature review search on a specific medical topic and presentation of the topic.
  • Other assigned tasks individualized to student interests or background.

Program Director:
Daniel Nishijima, M.D.
Professor of Medicine

Program Coordinator:
Toni Harbour
Office: 916-734-8131
Email: tharbour@ucdavis.edu

UC Davis Internship Coordinator:
Kay Nelson
Office: 530-752-1797
Email: kdnelson@ucdavis.edu

Contacts (for application process related questions):

Chief RA
Email: emrapchiefra@gmail.com

Vice Chief RA
Email: emrapvcra@gmail.com

Head Trainer RA
Email: emraphtra@gmail.com