What were the responsibilities of your internship? What did it entail?
I spent this summer in Denver as a clinical research intern in the Orthopedic department at Children’s Hospital Colorado (CHCO). I was part of the Tumor team and was assigned to a research project that I worked on throughout the 10-week internship. I was one of 10 interns in the program. Each intern had a research project that culminated at the end of the summer with a formal presentation given to the surgeons and providers within the department. While our focus was on our projects, we had many more opportunities within the hospital. We attended a lecture series catered to our interests and where we were in our career/school paths. The hospital is located on a large medical campus, so we also had the opportunity to attend other lectures going on around campus. We also participated in a weekly journal club. Each week one of the interns chose and presented a primary literature article that was then discussed by the group. One of the best parts of the internship was shadowing. We were able to shadow surgeons, physical therapists, primary care physicians and prosthetists. I personally sat in on multiple amputation surgeries. Many of the interns shadowed within the Orthopedics department, but a few were able to observe in other departments and see procedures such as open-heart surgeries and even a transplant.
How did CSB/SJU prepare you for the internship?
CSB/SJU helped to prepare me for this internship by giving me a background in research. My FYS class and my classes within the Exercise Science & Sport Studies (ESSS) department played a large part in preparing me to understand and conduct research. Through all of these classes, I learned the research process, was introduced to reading primary literature, and learned how to write scientifically. CSB/SJU also gave me contacts and references that made this internship possible for me. The alum network is very real.
What were some challenges/experiences that you faced? How did you overcome those challenges?
One of the first challenges I faced was learning how to critically read primary literature. Just reading through a research paper filled with medical jargon was intimidating at first. However, through reading background literature on my research topic and participating in weekly journal discussions, I learned how to quickly read primary literature and identify strengths and weaknesses of the studies. This ability has helped me a ton with my senior-year classes.
Another new experience/challenge that I had was working one-on-one with high-caliber professionals, such as surgeons. Each research intern was assigned to a specific project and surgeon. We were able to meet and discuss our progress with our surgeons each week, and many of us had the opportunity to shadow them. This was daunting at first, but I learned a lot from these interactions. I learned the value of my ideas and suggestions and how to voice them to someone who had much more knowledge and experience than I did. They also pushed us to improve our understanding of our projects and find creative solutions to problems we encountered.
What was your favorite memory?
My favorite memory was a monthly event called the Amputee Clinic. This was a multi-disciplinary clinic for which pre- and post-amputation patients were seen. Surgeons, oncologists, physical therapists and prosthetists all collaborated to determine the best course of treatment for each patient. Many times, the most complicated and interesting cases were brought into this clinic. It gave me the opportunity to see how medical professionals work together to provide the best coordinated care to patients.
Advice for students interested in applying for an internship?
My advice for students applying for an internship is to choose internships that really interest you. I applied to quite a few internships, but many of them were not particularly interesting to me. I think it would be better to focus on a few, interesting internships than to apply to a bunch of generic ones. Interest level shows through an application.
What are your plans after graduation?
After graduation, I am hoping to attend a master’s program to become a prosthetic and orthotic practitioner. My experiences this summer really helped to confirm that this is the path I want to pursue and set me up to be a better applicant than I would have been without the internship.