Emily Kipper ’13, Ebersole Fellow in Children’s Health
This week has definitely been my favorite week here yet. I started off the week finishing up my patient log according to the inclusion criteria of the study. This was a very long process because each patient had to meet certain requirements in order to get in to the study. I was able to search for these requirements using the online medical chart database Epic, which made locating information a lot easier than if I were to have used paper charts. I have really gotten to know the database and have gotten much better at navigating the system. Because of my future professional goals, working this in depth with medical charts has been a great experience. There are a lot of different aspects to medical charts and getting to know how they organize information has been very valuable.
I have greatly enjoyed spending time with the other interns, and getting to know the other people I am working with. It seems like a very tight-knit team which makes my experience here so enjoyable. The other research interns, as well as the research assistants have similar future goals as I do, so it has been great to be able to get advice from them, as well as think about other possible professional avenues.
Friday was my 21st birthday, as well as a very exciting day at the hospital. Aside from working on my research project, this internship includes clinical and surgical observation hours. Friday was my first time in the operating room shadowing Sumeet Garg, the surgeon I am working for. Dr. Garg is an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in spine surgeries. My research is dealing with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis patients who have undergone spinal fusions so I was very excited that I was going to get to see one. Patients undergoing spine surgery are at a high risk of infection, so it was very important for me to be aware of where all of the sterile instruments were located as well as be fully dressed in scrubs, a surgical cap, mask, and gloves. I was able to follow the procedure fairly well because I have spent a lot of my time reading about spinal fusions. First, Dr. Garg made a very large incision from the top of the thoracic curve down to the bottom of the lumbar curve which made, what looked like, about a foot long incision, and opened the incision with metal clamps. Then the muscle had to be removed from the bone in order to expose the vertebrae. This was a very long process and somewhere in the middle, I began to get rather light-headed. This was very surprising to me because I have observed other surgeries before, and have never been affected. The monitor tech was very helpful, and reassured me it was just the altitude (I’m positive it was the fact that there was an exposed spinal column in front of me, but it made me feel better). After I sat down for about 5 minutes, I was back to observing. The joints between the vertebrae were then removed and the the screws and rods were placed to straighten out the spine. Because the vertebrae have been roughened up, the body responds by creating new bone. Bone graft is also added to between the rods to help the bone fuse together. The surgery took about 6 hours and I was amazed at how diligently the surgeon worked the entire time. His dedication and
excitement about the surgery was very inspiring. After the surgery, I was able to see the radiograph of the spine before the fusion in which there was a very prominent curve. After the surgery, it was almost completely straight. This surgery is something that I am very lucky to have observed. Dr. Garg made a comment about how he wished he would have an opportunity such as this during his undergrad, and it made me thankful for how this fellowship is placing me in settings that I would have never otherwise been. Overall, this made for quite the memorable birthday.
I am looking forward to the coming weeks because I was able to sign up for departments that I would be interested in observing for the clinical hours portion of the fellowship. I am extremely excited about the possibility of observing in the neonatal intensive care unit as well as the emergency department. These new experiences make me think more about what I might be interested in doing as a career, and this fellowship is making me consider many different avenues I haven’t previously thought about.
Over the weekend I was able to get out and explore Colorado a bit. I love all things outdoors, so I was very excited to be able to head out to the Mountains. I went hiking at Estes Park and enjoyed the beautiful scenery as well as some interesting wildlife. This was a perfect end to a very exciting week here in Colorado.