Medical internships prepare students for health professions

February 12, 2008

Biology major Janice Watson ’09 saw everything from car accidents to stabbings and people struck by axes when she worked in the Trauma Resuscitation unit at the University of Maryland’s Shock Trauma during Jan Term. She watched surgeries, intubations, examinations and chest tube insertions.

“It was one of the best opportunities that I’ve had at McDaniel,” she said. “I feel more confident in my skills, and I feel like I might make a better physician as a result.”

Watson was among about 20 students who got first-hand experience in the medical field during the Jan Term intercession. Five students participated in medical internships in the operating room, the trauma resuscitation unit and in the fields of optometry and physical rehabilitation. Fourteen more took the “First Responder” course, which taught advanced first aid for dealing with emergency medical and trauma patients, and qualified students to take the state certification examination.

While many of those participating in medical Jan Terms are planning careers in the health profession, not all are Biology majors, says Greg Szulgit, assistant professor of Biology and a pre-medical advisor.

“There is no requirement that a student have a Biology major to enter the medical field,” he says. “You can go to medical school with a degree in Music. You just need to have taken certain classes.”

Peter Gaitens ’08, an Exercise Science major, is planning to become a hand therapist. He interned at Maryland Sportscare and Rehab, where he observed a certified hand and occupational therapist. Gaitens wrote daily logs about his experience, as well as his own case study of the protocols for an injury he observed.

“This experience will help me later down in the road because I am in the process of hearing back from graduate schools for occupational therapy,” says Gaitens. “I want to go into hand therapy, so the internship was very beneficial to me and hopefully will be for my career.”

Biochemistry major Liana Fly ’10 watched emergency brain surgery and saw the devastation caused by flesh infections at her internship as an operating room assistant at University of Maryland’s Shock Trauma.

“The doctors and nurses there know exactly what they’re doing,” says Fly. “Most would let me get up close and see what was happening.”

Fly, who wants to become a brain surgeon, delivered supplies including blood and tissue for surgeries, cleaned up beds and set up canisters for blood.

“I was worried that I might be sick [because of what I saw], but now I know I can handle it and can go on to do what I want to do,” she said.

To learn more about how McDaniel prepares students for the health professions, click here.