It Takes Guts to Intern in an Operating Room
Submitted by Ashley Williams, Career Services Graduate Assistant
This past summer, Rollins students interned in great numbers in a variety of settings around the globe. Over the holidy break, we wanted to share some of their experiences with you as they all had some very interesting experiences. Taylor Wejkszner left Pennsylvania after high school to attend Rollins for undergrad, returning home for her Summer 2013 Internship at Lehigh Valley Health Network. Despite going to school in Florida, her hometown network proved useful in securing the position with LVHN.
As an intern, Taylor worked 70-hour weeks, “waking up at 5am for 6:30am surgery,” interacting directly with patients, shadowing in multiple departments, and conducting her own research on robotic surgery. Here, she also offers insight into doctors’ self-care habits that best serve their patients in high-stress environments.
Taylor Wejkszner @ Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown, PA
As I pass the halfway marker of my internship, I cannot believe all I have accomplished in the last four weeks. Securing this internship at Lehigh Valley Health Network has not only been a blessing, but one of the most hands-on learning experiences I have had to date. Though in the past I have shadowed in many departments, such as Dermatology and Respiratory Therapy, I have never been able to get the opportunity to scrub in for surgery or have so much direct patient contact as I have in my current position.
I am beyond fortunate that I heard about this opportunity but feel as though now that I have had so many great experiences in this program, it is my duty of spread the word to other college students interested in the medical field. As a person who grew up in the Lehigh Valley but went out of state for college, it can be difficult to stay on top of open positions or opportunities available at home when I am in Florida nine months out of the year. I spoke with Jean Hoffman, Internship Coordinator for LVHN about researching where high school students attend college if they do not stay in Pennsylvania and sending out flyers about the research program to the school’s in that particular area. This will ensure that every student who has gone to high school in the Lehigh Valley has a fair shot at scoring such a great summer internship.
In addition to spending time in the Operating Room, Gynecologic Oncology doctor’s offices, and the Labor and Delivery floor at Lehigh Valley Health Network, I have also been in the process of collecting data for my research project which I present on July 26th. As of now, I will have all the data I need by the end of the week and then will be working with a biostatistician at the hospital so we can analyze cost of the hysterectomies, rate of readmission and complications based on type of surgery (i.e. robotic, laparoscopic or open) and post ICU times. With this analysis, the focus is to show the payback of performing robotic hysterectomies vs. open hysterectomies based on the economic and quality of life benefits. I chose to undertake this research topic because of the skepticism toward robotic surgery. Though it is a relatively new way to operate, it has repeatedly and consistently shown its advantages.
I have also had time to reflect on the learning goals I created in the beginning of my internship. I feel as though I have been able to accomplish most of my goals but still have a lot to learn before I can say I have what it takes to be a doctor. As I continue to read the book, Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance by Dr. Atul Gawande the reality of the medical field and healthcare become more noticeable as I walk around the hospital each day. One of the most relevant topics in the book is how doctors cannot help patients if they do not take responsibilities for basic acts such as washing their hands in between each patient. The book goes into detail about the contentious history of hand washing in hospitals. Though rubber gloves are used in each examination, they do not substitute for using hand sanitizer in between patients. It is these simple rules that must be followed to allow doctors to continue to help patients and keep disease out of the hospital.
In addition, I have still been learning about the psycho-social aspect of being a doctor. After seeing 25 or more patients who are suffering from different forms of abdominal cancers, it is hard to go home and go back to everyday life knowing that 25 more people in this world may not see tomorrow. I spoke with Doctor Martino about this and he said it takes time before anyone who becomes a doctor can accept that he or she is only human and can never or will never be God. He said it never really sinks in until you lose your first patient. Though a sad fact, it is one everyone has to come to terms with.