How social media helped a TCOM student become a research mentor
A circuitous path was blazed by Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine third-year student Mark Quiring in his quest to become more involved in research as a medical student. Through some ingenuity, he used social media to join Jefferson Health New Jersey virtually as a research assistant to further expand his knowledge in urology – with hope that he would achieve his goal of becoming a urological surgeon.
Quiring recently had a chance to present his research and achievements to the UNT System Board of Regents when they met at The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth. So how did Quiring, a medical student in Texas end up doing virtual work in New Jersey?
In the summer of 2021, Quiring was part of TCOM’s Pediatric Research Program when he was connected with Dr. Jonathan Kaye, a pediatric urologist at Cook Children’s Medical Center. Quiring had been very active in research dating back to his undergrad days, but urology wasn’t something he had considered, that soon changed.
“I really wanted to explore different fields while in medical school, but urology was not on my radar as far as specialties go,” said. Quiring. “I knew what they did and what the field entails and when I got paired with Dr. Kaye I just loved it. The more I learned, the more I read outside of what we were doing, it seemed like a great specialty and I wanted to learn more.”
Not only did Quiring start learning, he started turning heads.
“I was immediately taken by his motivation, and he was not just collecting the data, but understanding what he was doing,” said Dr. Kaye. “Everyone who has come in contact with him has been very impressed at how quickly he gets things done, which is very unusual for a student at his stage of training to take on projects and see them through publication.”
Quiring’s passion for urology was evident, but what he needed was more experience. So, he took to social media to find it.
“I sent out probably 75-100 DM’s to people and programs,” Quiring said with a chuckle. “I wasn’t expecting much and was really just hoping to get connected. It’s such a small field (urology) and there isn’t a lot locally and it seemed like MedTwitter was becoming more of a common thing for people to connect.”
After those many attempts, a few connections were made and one program replied with an opportunity – Jefferson Health New Jersey. They took notice of Quiring and Young Son, DO, a third-year resident at Jefferson Health liked what he saw.
“I reached out to Mark on Twitter after seeing his work and presentation of his urological research,” said Dr. Son. “My first impression was he was very enthusiastic and Mark was interested in urology as a specialty after medical school.”
He started virtually in February of 2022 and Dr. Son said Quiring quickly became an integral part of their research team. Quiring dove right into his work with Jefferson Health. In just a few months, he went from being mentored to being a mentor himself. Quiring showed so much promise, that he was soon overseeing a dozen students from other osteopathic medical schools in the area.
“Responsibility was earned by Mark,” said Dr. Son. “He showed that he was able to progressively learn and take on more complex research tasks as we moved forward. We work with over 50 osteopathic students across the nation and it is rare to have a student as dedicated as Mark. We attempt to find those who are arduous, persistent, and willing to mentor junior medical student researchers along the way. At no point I felt uncomfortable giving more responsibility to Mark.”
His calendar is quite full these days, overseeing 12 other osteopathic students and focusing a lot of energy on pediatric urology and urological oncology for his own growth. Quiring has presented 15 posters, had two podium presentations and three publications while balancing his studies as a medical student.
“Every field needs good people and urology, like every other field, is always looking for people doing research,” said Dr. Kaye. “Mark is a good guy. There is no shortage of people who want to be a urologist, but there is a shortage of people who can be a urologist. It’s always nice to have people who want to make a difference and contribute.”
Quiring has two podium presentations and one poster at the upcoming American College of Osteopathic Surgeon’s Annual Clinical Assembly ins September, and another poster at the Pediatric Urology Fall Congress in October.
It will give him an opportunity to expand his virtual footprint, which opened so many doors, but also continue to gain knowledge for his ultimate goal of becoming a urological surgeon.
“It’s been a blessing and a really nice surprise,” said Quiring. “There was definitely a bit of luck in the fact that I saw these people on Twitter and they saw my research and then how it all come together. This was all unexpected that I have been able to produce this much and help out in this way, but it’s been just awesome to do.”