Ten exceptional Mason High School students gained hands-on health care experience this summer as part of the school's inaugural Internship Program with UC West Chester Hospital.
Mason High School science teachers Carol Lehman and Maggie Long and and MHS Assistant Principal Shanna Bumiller supervised Ameen Ahmad, Allegra Delman, Bella Douglas, Leah Hefelfinger, David Honda, Annie Notton, Amith Rao, Megan Slater, Siddharth Srinivasan and Esteban Trujillo as they participated in Biomedical Rotations at the area's newest hospital. Following the rotations, interns discussed their experiences and practiced communication skills. The internship culminated with a reflective round presentation to their peers and families on August 26. In the presentations, the students shared their thoughts and takeaways from the internship, along with how the experience will influence their college and post-secondary decisions.
“I learned that medicine isn’t just the ER trauma room or surgery, but various aspects extending far beyond. The people were amazing in giving honest insight into their lives and how arduous their jobs are. It was also interesting to see how all these departments collaboratively provide a comprehensive diagnosis and treatment plan which extends far beyond what was in the doctor’s brain,” said Rao.
To get selected for the internship, the students participated in a very competitive application process which included interviews with their Honors Anatomy and Physiology teachers, Long and Lehman.
"I really appreciated the application process because it is preparing us for the selective entrance process with colleges," said Slater.
Long shared that the interview process was just as powerful for the teachers who were able to see a different side of their students.
"Even though we had these students in class, there was something very special about the interview process that allowed us to really see who these students are, and who they want to become."
During the internship, the students met their hospital mentors in the lobby each morning before beginning medical rotations - consisting of Clinic/Laboratory, Emergency Department, Imaging, Inpatient Units, Operating Room, Perioperative Areas, Pharmacy Services, Rehab Services, Respiratory Therapy and Sterile Processing.
"The rotations really helped broaden my perspective from just 'I'm going to be a doctor.' Taking sterile processing or quality management may not be as glamorous as what you see on on TV - but it is hugely important. In pop culture, medicine often focuses on the doctors - think Grey's Anatomy or House. But I saw that there are incredibly important people like the nurses who foster the relationships with patients. They end up being the ones who are there, and who the patient comes to count on," said Douglas.
As part of the internship experience, participating students were asked to reflect on their daily rotation in a journal that was submitted upon completion of the experience. In addition to the formal journal, interns were also asked to briefly reflect on their daily experiences, which could include questions, sharing great things that happened, or frustrations.
Here were some of the students’ thoughts behind their time in the rotations:
“I aim to become an orthopedic surgeon and it has helped me discover what I like/dislike about my prospective profession. It exposed me to professionalism and a “day in the medical life” that other students will not have experienced. It will give me an advantage as I experienced a medical internship as a high school student,” said Allegra Dellman.
“This internship was an amazing experience for me and will most definitely be a useful tool in deciding the field of medicine that I would like to go into. I discovered that I am one who needs a fast paced environment, so surgery or trauma would be the best option for me. I was reminded of how vital the nurses are - and how they develop relationships with patients. I saw a nurse help a recovering alcoholic who missed his 30-day sober celebration because he was in the hospital. She helped create a celebration for him - which was super sweet and very impactful,” said Leah Hefelfinger.
“I went into these two weeks very open minded and grateful. I am so fortunate to have gotten this opportunity to experience the real bio-medical field. After these two weeks I still plan on going to nursing school and hopefully becoming a nurse practitioner. This experience sparked a little interest in OBGYN surgery and I would love to incorporate that into my future plans,” said Notton.
All of the students expressed gratitude towards West Chester Hospital for the experience, and were impressed with the hospital's culture.
"Throughout the internship I was impressed that the physicians showed unconditional love for [the patients] they came into contact with - that really resonated with me. I appreciated that one of the ER doctors told me about his decision to go into Emergency Room medicine because it gave him more of an opportunity to spend time with his family than some other fields. Overall I saw that doctors are there to help patients get their lives back - rather than for money or a title," shared Honda.
UC West Chester Hospital Chief Operating Officer Tom Daskalakis appreciated hearing the students' reflections. He encouraged them to pursue their passions as they begin making decisions about college and career. "Passion is very important. [Health Care] is a team sport. You all have exciting opportunities in front of you. Don't forget where you came from, and make sure that when you're in a position to do something [like this internship] for someone you do and remember what we all did for you."