Courtesy of the philanthropic interest of Gonzaga graduate Dr. Terry Mayberg and her husband, Gonzaga students have been participating in clinical research projects and receiving mentoring from physicians and other medical professionals through the Seattle Summer Biomedical Internship (SSBI) Program since 2015. Sponsored by the Swedish Medical Center Foundation through the Mayberg Educational Fund in partnership with Gonzaga, the SSBI provides paid internships in which students engage in quality research experiences supplemented with weekly lectures and the opportunity to shadow mentors. Three undergraduates from the School of Nursing & Human Physiology took part in the SSBI program in 2017—one Nursing major and two Human Physiology majors. Two of 2017’s participants (Peter Sherman, Human Physiology, and Bailey Nurmia, Nursing) talked to us about their experiences this summer.
SNHP: You applied for and were accepted to the SSBI for summer 2017. What was your understanding of the internship prior to starting?
Peter: Before participating, I understood the program to be a clinical research immersion in downtown Seattle that also involved vast opportunities for shadowing practitioners in various clinical disciplines. I knew that each of the interns are assigned one or two mentors, most of which were practicing physicians, who had specific clinical research projects that the individual interns would have the opportunity to work on throughout the summer.
Bailey: I assumed the program would be a summer internship where I would be at Swedish Hospital working with a physician. What I didn’t understand was the amazing mentorship that Dr. Terry Mayberg offers throughout the whole experience, and still provides for all of us. I also didn’t understand the magnitude of the importance of the research I would be participating in, but at the end of the summer I was able to see how the work I did was actually improving the healthcare that patients in my community were receiving.
“You will not find another program like SSBI, so always be grateful to the Maybergs and your mentors for working hard to give you this unique and impactful experience.” – Peter Sherman, 2017 SSBI Participant
SNHP: Can you tell us about the work you did (and the mentors you worked with) during the internship?
Bailey: I worked with the Maternal Fetal Medicine center at Swedish First Hill, and two perinatal OB physicians (Dr. Vania Rudolf and Dr. Suzanne Peterson). I worked with Drs. Rudolf and Peterson gathering and organizing data on pain medications prescribed post-partum based on method of delivery. We found that there was a significant over-prescription of opiate medication and developed a new protocol for postpartum analgesic prescribing practices that we are working on implementing at Swedish. I worked on three projects over the summer—two of which resulted in research papers, and one of which resulted in an abstract that will be presented at a conference.
Peter: I was considered the Research & Innovation Intern, and my mentor was a Research Consultant who aids in the design and maintenance of various clinical research projects led by doctors throughout the Swedish network. My position was geared towards helping other interns with the troubleshooting and statistical analysis of their own projects. My mentor introduced me to a group of colon & rectal surgeons at Swedish who gave me two retrospective clinical research studies to work on. One project consisted of an analysis of The Correction of Anemia Prior to Colorectal Cancer Surgery and the other was an analysis of Cost vs. Efficacy of two Surgical Staplers for Colorectal Anastomosis. The initial findings I found for each of these studies were presented at the 2017 Northwest Society of Colon & Rectal Surgeons Conference in Vancouver in late July.
SNHP: What did you find challenging about your experience? Rewarding?
Peter: It was challenging to keep myself accountable for my work and progress, as we were independently working on our individual projects. Also, it could be intimidating to ask for clarification or for help from the mentors, as they are very busy, important people. I learned very quickly that these mentors are incredibly willing and happy to answer our questions and spend time ensuring that we are learning and having a profound, holistic clinical experience.
Bailey: I was challenged by the lack of structure in day to day work; it is really up to you to find tasks and be self-motivated to get things done. I found it surprising and rewarding to have the ability to create such an impact and change, and how much influence the work I was doing had on patient care.
SNHP: How has this experience informed or strengthened your commitment to your course of study and your career path?
Bailey: One of the amazing aspects to the experience is how much shadowing you get to do with so many different health care providers. Through clinical experiences at Gonzaga I know how much I love bedside nursing; it was a remarkable experience to see these other roles, and realize how many avenues in healthcare I enjoy. It also helped me acknowledge my passion for research and the constant drive to improve the care my patients are receiving.
Peter: This experience has definitely affirmed my desire to pursue a career in medicine. Having the opportunities to form relationships with intelligent, kind, hard-working physicians and being able to shadow various medical practices, medical professionals, and procedures kindled a greater excitement and enthusiasm for me in my choice to apply for medical school. I am very grateful toward SSBI and Dr. Terry and Dr. Marc Mayberg for having such a profound vision for this program.
SNHP: What advice would you give to fellow students who might have the opportunity to participate in this program in the future?
Bailey: This program can provide you with amazing experiences, but you get out what you put into it. I would advise students to really put their full selves into it and take advantage of all the amazing opportunities they gain access to through this program!
Peter: Take advantage of every opportunity while you are in Seattle participating in this program. Really take time to get to know your mentor. Take time to reach out to physicians, PAs, and nurses in fields you are interested in.
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