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Clinical Research Training (SEARCH)

Applications are now closed for the Summer 2024 term. Applications will re-open for the Winter 2025 term in late September/early October 2024.

What is SEARCH?

The SickKids Emergency Assistants for Research in Child Health (SEARCH) program is an educational initiative of the SickKids Emergency Department (ED), with the aim to facilitate patient-specific research efforts in the ED. This includes both formal research such as randomized controlled trials, and quality improvement projects.  

SEARCH Volunteers function as trainee research assistants, and will be trained to help screen and enroll eligible patients into multiple research studies that are currently recruiting in the ED. The specific goals of this initiative are to provide a constant research presence in the ED, to improve recruitment rates for ongoing studies, and to educate and mentor future research and/or health care professionals. 

What do SEARCH Volunteers do?

In this program, volunteers work during scheduled shifts in the ED with another SEARCH trainee and under the supervision of an experienced SEARCH Research Assistant (RA) to help identify and enroll patients for approximately 10-14 studies. Each of the two SEARCH trainees will take on a different role per shift; Desk Trainee or Floor Trainee. The Desk Trainee will act as an agent of SickKids, and will be the first research point of contact for patients and families arriving in the ED. As they arrive, the Desk Trainee will be scanning the ED patient tracking system to identify possible eligible patients, and will be the first to approach these families to assess their willingness to discuss a study with the RA. The Floor Trainee acts as an RA-trainee, and will get to assist and shadow the SEARCH RA to learn more about research processes within the ED, gradually taking on more responsibility under the RA's supervision. If you join the program, you will be able to act in both roles, alternating with each shift. 

You will also get the chance to approach and interact with clinical staff, by completing study related forms with attending doctors and fellows, attending shift hand-over, and working closely with the ED research nursing team for more complex studies such as clinical trials. 

Expand the sections below to learn more about required time commitments, application information, and more frequently asked questions. 

A commitment of two shifts per week, every week, for six months from volunteers with a keen interest in learning more about the basics of clinical research. Volunteers will choose from shifts times from Monday through Sunday. The program operates seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and is divided into the following shift times: 


  • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 
  • 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. 
  • 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. 


  • 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 
  • 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. 

The program follows terms that run from January to June (Winter) and July to December (Summer). A commitment to work two shifts per week for six months is mandatory. Volunteers who meet minimum program requirements may have the opportunity to extend their six-month commitment for another term upon performance evaluation. 

Volunteers must:

  • Meet SickKids hiring requirements (criminal reference/background check and orientation) 
  • Meet Occupational Health requirements (two-step TB test and proof of up-to-date immunization) 
  • Complete paperwork as required by Human Resources and Volunteer Services  
  • Attend the program and hospital required orientation session(s) and training shifts (see dates below) 
  • Complete Tri-Council Policy Statement (TCPS2) ethics training 
  • Familiarize self with current study protocols 

Application process

  1. Complete the application survey
  2. Attach a copy of your CV and unofficial transcripts to the application survey 
  3. Please do not apply if you are unable to commit to all the above dates and times. Incomplete or late applications will not be considered.
  4. You will not receive a confirmation email after completing the application survey. 
  5. Please note: the number of open volunteer positions is dependent on program availability each term. If not enough spots are available, some successful applicants may be waitlisted for the following term, or offered volunteer work on other initiatives in the ED as available.

Application Deadlines & Important Dates:

  • Application Deadline: March 10, 2024 at 11:59 p.m.
  • Interview Dates: Will be booked between March 18 and March 22, 2024 (these dates may be subject to change).
  • Mandatory SEARCH Orientation Evening: TBD. Week of June 3 to June 7, from 4 p.m. to approximately 6 p.m. 
  • Training shifts: June 10 to June 30, 2024 (all trainees must complete two shadowing shifts during this time).
  • Duration of six-month term: July 1, 2024 to Jan 5, 2025.


  • Approximately $120, which includes:
    • $20 for Vulnerable Sector Search 
    • Approximately $80 for a Two-Step TB (tuberculosis) Test 
    • $10 for a SickKids SEARCH Volunteer T-Shirt


To be considered for the position, you should possess: 

  • Excellent attention to detail and efficient time management skills 
  • Strong communication, interpersonal and organizational skills 
  • Ability to be self-directed, flexible and take initiative 
  • Be very comfortable working independently with families and staff or as part of a team in a busy emergency department 
  • Previous customer service skills and/or experience working with the general public is an asset 
  • Priority is given to currently registered students in an accredited post-secondary program (with a focus on third and fourth year undergraduates) or recently graduated students (less than 12 months). Medical School Graduates, or applicants who have completed their Master's/PhD in a related field (and are not currently in medical school) are not eligible to apply for the program. 


  • Q: Why is the deadline to apply so early (3 months before the start date)?
    • A: This is to allow time for Volunteer Resources to process all onboarding requests, and for our successful applicants to complete all required paperwork prior to beginning on-site training. Volunteer Resources recommends 7 weeks to complete onboarding.
  • Q: How will I know if I have been selected to interview?
    • A: Invitations to interview will be sent to successful applicants generally within 2–3 days following the application deadline. As we receive a high volume of applications each term (100+), we are only able to respond to those whom are selected for interview. 
  • Q: I graduated more than 12 months ago. Should I still apply?
    • A: While preference is usually given to currently registered students/recent graduates in the last year, all applications to our program are considered, and we will reach out to any strong applicants. Please note: Medical School Graduates, or applicants who have completed their Master's/PhD in a related field and are not currently in medical school, are not eligible to apply for the program. 
  • Q: I am a high school student. May I apply?
    • A: The SEARCH program, and other research volunteer positions at SickKids, require applicants to be 18 years or older in order to apply. However summer volunteer placements, such as the SickKids Summer Research (SSuRe) Program have a minimum age of 16 years and are a great way to build research experience while in high school!

This is a volunteer opportunity. At the end of your four-month commitment reference letters are available upon request. 

This position primarily provides the opportunity to gain first-hand experience with the practicality of conducting research in a clinical setting. During each four month term, you will receive instruction and guidance on research methods both indirectly (via study materials) and directly by shadowing and working with an experienced SEARCH RA.

If you plan to pursue a career in clinical research, you are likely to benefit from having clinical research experience on your CV. Many motivated SEARCH trainees, either alongside or following their SEARCH experience, have also had the opportunity to become involved more extensively in individual research projects or have received employment at SickKids (such as becoming a SEARCH RA!). 

You will gain valuable clinical experience communicating with families in the ED. Additionally, having the opportunity to work alongside experienced clinical staff will provide better insight into paediatric emergency medicine and offers the opportunity to cultivate collaborative relationships with medical professionals that will helpful if you are considering a medical career. 

Current research studies and quality projects are focused on areas of care that directly affect thousands of children in the ED every year.

Studies include but are not limited to, children with anaphylaxisfractures, mental health crises, respiratory conditions (such as asthma , bronchiolitis and pneumonia), and severe infections. We also have several studies recruiting healthy children, and looking at quality improvement in our ED.

You may reach out to the SEARCH Research Coordinators, Bethany Lerman and Kayla Jenkins, via e-mail at: and 

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We welcome volunteers of all ages to help us deliver world-class care for children and their families.

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