Kevin Curwick '17
Kevin Curwick worked as an undergraduate research fellow at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, in the summer of 2016. Kevin was part of a research group called Multidisciplinary Epidemiology Translational Research in Intensive Care (METRIC).
What were some of the responsibilities of your internship? What did it entail?
My research this summer consisted of a variety of projects. I worked largely in the discipline of critical care in which I researched health disparities in the intensive care unit (ICU), physiologic links to post-ICU syndrome in brain tissue, cardiorenal syndrome type 1 and a variety of other projects. I worked directly with physicians, residents and fellows on every project. Unlike many undergraduate research positions that are based in a lab, I was fortunate enough to be a part of various parts of the research process. From grant writing to Institutional Review Board submissions to even contributing to scientific manuscripts, I experienced both the genesis and the completion of research projects.
How did CSB/SJU prepare you for the internship?
Most students from other schools will enter research positions with a similar set of technical or "hard" skills as the students from CSB/SJU. The differentiating factor between myself and the other students was the ability to communicate effectively and professionally with my colleagues. The liberal arts component of my undergraduate education has provided me with the ability to understand both the biochemical aspects of medicine as well as the underlying morality and human aspects of medicine. Those type of "soft" skills or understanding help not just with productivity but also with establishing a network with important connections to the healthcare field.
What were some challenges/experiences that you faced? How did you overcome those challenges?
One of the most wonderful parts of my experience was working in a group of physicians in which I was not just the only one without a medical degree, but I was also the only American-born person. This provided a challenge from the standpoint that most everyone in the room offered a very different perspective on the research process and any ethical challenges that arose. Working through those differences involved extensive communication and consideration of the influence of one another's background. It was a wonderful opportunity to learn about other cultures' perspectives of medicine's role in peoples' lives.
What was your favorite memory?
My favorite part of the experience was the satisfaction I had with finding novel approaches to some of medicine's difficult questions. Working with some of the most highly recognized physicians in the world, I was able to utilize the vast array of resources that the Mayo Clinic offers and investigate some of my own questions that came about through my research. As an undergraduate, having my opinion and work be valued really helped me feel like a part of the team and enjoy the environment that I worked in.
Advice for students interested in applying for an internship?
My advice for applying for a research internship in the healthcare field is to get started early in the process. If you express interest in research positions to your professors or adviser, they may be more apt to write a letter of recommendation for you and advocate for an internship position. Additionally, demonstrate some level of uniqueness in your application and resume. There are a lot of students applying for only a few positions and a lot of applications will look similar. Find a way to stand out with your interests and passions.
What are your plans after graduation?
After graduation I plan to take a year off to continue some of the research I was involved with at Mayo Clinic or obtain a Master's of Science degree in Health Care Delivery prior to enrolling in medical school.
Anything else you would like to add?
The Integrative Health Science track provided me with an understanding of health that I do not believe any other major could offer. Even though I am pursuing medicine, my familiarity with psychology and its connection to overall health from my major allowed me to work in chronic pain research at Mayo Clinic the prior summer. The holistic approach of nutrition, psychology, and exercise science is highly sought after in the medical field and a comprehension of the interplay of such disciplines in medicine can bode well for any research or internship experience.