Week 3:
The Stories Continue

Dimensions Fellow in Orthopedic Research

Children's Hospital Colorado | Aurora, Colorado

July 1, 2019

I have started to work on the new patient list that we got last Friday. The second list was noisier than the first one that the majority of the cases are non-shaft fractures. I have not included the number of patients we expecting from this list and Anastasiya is waiting for the third list to come. 

I am also collecting the demographic data from the patients we included last week. We have many variables to collect and it is very necessary to pay full attention to each detail. I am getting much better now and detailed-oriented enough to gather all the information we need. However, I was very confused in the first two days and overwhelmed by the amount of information I reviewed. It is really good that I am working with my RAs side by side in our own office. I can easily bother Anastasiya every day with a lot of questions such as “why am I collecting this data”, “where can I find this”, “can I change this”, “how do you want me to record this”. Anastasiya is very nice and she answered all of my questions patiently. She is also willing to share her previous research experience with me, both successes and struggles. Sometimes we can just chat when we have down time without bothering anyone in our office. My RAs shared their application experience and future career plans with me as well as application stories of their friends.

Me with Anastasiya in scrubs! She screenshots the x rays for Dr. Stoneback to review so that he does not need to open the online system which saves more than half of the time. What a smart and considerate RA!

On Tuesday, we had our intern’s lecture on the introduction to clinical gait movement analysis—-the measure of walking. We were emphasized on the significance of walking because it guarantees the independence of life and provides health benefits. It can also be used as an indication of one’s health condition, both physically and mentally. We learned the normal gait cycle and 13 critical events that can be used to identify musculoskeletal problems by observation. I think the gait analysis is very cool with respect to the amount of information we can obtain simply from walking, which is the most common thing that we do in everyday life. I am looking forward to visiting the gait lab and doing some shadowing in the future weeks.

We also heard a little about the history of the gait lab. It was founded in 1999 and served as the only instrumented gait analysis lab in Colorado at that time. Health providers in various fields including physical therapists, kinesiologists, engineers, physiatrists, and orthopedics are attracted to collaborate here. Our summer intern program was initially started in the gait lab and then expanded to the Musculoskeletal Research Center. Anastasiya told me that Patrick, our Cornell alumni, was the very first summer intern in this program ten years ago. He is the one that keeps this program moving forward and improve it with new elements such as the journal club and lecture series. 

When the music goes around in the Children’s Hospital…

Anastasiya also told me that she was in my position three years ago. Now she is a rising second-year medical school student at U of Colorado and currently working with Dr. Stoneback in the trauma research team. Her goal is to be an orthopedic surgeon in the future. My other RA Colin is applying to medical school and his dream is to do emergency medicine. He is also currently working at the emergency department at the children’s hospital at Parker from 7 pm to 7 am. I can’t imagine how he can tolerate this high working intensity as well as working so great as a research assistant here.

One of the interns’ traditions is to have lunch together so that we get some time to chat and develop a better connection. The interns are from various backgrounds, including a master student Sophie who is studying high-altitude physiology, and Emma majoring in engineering is helping with coding in the gait lab. We also have interns who are in the process of applying to medical school and Alicia is one of them. And they got me—-an international student who is exploring different areas of health care.

I went on a community service trip to Colorado last spring break with nine other Cornell students. We helped cleaned and sorted a domestic violence shelter in Boulder and had an educational session on domestic violence as well as human’s right. We stayed at a student’s home in Niwot and went for a hike together. Now I am here again with a different task.

This is a very dynamic environment, having students come and go every summer. On one hand, the program provides valuable opportunities for undergrad students to have hands-on research experience in a hospital setting. On the other hand, the Musculoskeletal Research Center and gait lab are inviting new blood flowing in and keeping themselves energetic.

These are the stories of us in this energetic and open-minded environment.

Thanks to this great opportunity, our stories will continue, thrive, and sparkle in the future!

Penny (Yin) Peng '21

Penny is a biochemistry and molecular biology major with minors in chemistry and psychology from Guangzhou, China.