Intern learns value of medical research

By Melissa Thompson

Back problems can have a devastating impact on a person’s life. Without a fully-functioning spine an individual may be barred from doing activities or keeping up with friends and family. For the people that feel this sort of pain on a daily basis Rachel Deutz might be of some assistance.

Deutz is a CSB senior who is spending her summer interning at Zimmer Spine, a Minneapolis company which specializes in producing spinal products and working with doctors on techniques and advances in the area of spinal fusion.

Zimmer Spine is not your typical corporation. The staff spend their days focused on helping patients to receive the best medical devices and surgical tools for back surgery that the medical world has to offer, and they also work on gathering professionals to exchange new ideas and thoughts about old techniques.

Deutz said this sort of focus means her day-to-day tasks can vary greatly. Although she sometimes gets stuck doing the “dirt” work no one else wants to do in her down time, she also gets to work on tasks that expand her mind and challenge her knowledge.

Deutz is currently coordinating a “skunk works” cadaver lab in Indiana which allows physicians to gather and view different tools for spinal surgery. The object of this is to ultimately create better tools. The cadaver lab also allows surgeons to discuss techniques and bounce ideas off one another.

Deutz has also worked with the vice president of marketing on the company’s strategic plan as well as writing journal entries for spinal magazines.

She finds the amount of supervision she receives assists her in successfully learning because she always has the help when she needs it, but her boss allows her the space to make her own mistakes and achieve her own victories. She always has to follow up with her supervisor after completing a project, and if she finds herself lost she can ask for additional help. “My supervisor is there if I need him,” she said.

When Deutz arrived at her internship she found that she really was not prepared for what she found. “The terms they use are intimidating,” Deutz said. “However, I was thrown right in and I had no choice in how involved I was going to be.”

Deutz, a management major, found that classes she had taken said that this helped her with the marketing aspect of the internship. While most of the people who work at Zimmer Spine focus more on things from a biological angle Deutz finds that she is prepared to tackle different tasks. “Those involved with the biological aspect have no clue about the marketing aspect at all,” she said.

Deutz got involved with Zimmer Spine through a family friend. “I hounded him for a year and a half while I decided exactly when I wanted to do an internship,” she said. “This is something I am interested in doing after graduation.”