This summer I was accepted to the Nursing Department of the Rusk Health Career Opportunity Program (HCOP) at the Rusk Institute. It is a four-week long summer internship opportunity given to students to gain experience in the fast-paced hospital setting and network with professionals. Based on students’ interests and skills, the HCOP places qualified groups of interns into departments across the hospital. Students can volunteer almost everywhere, from shadowing nurses to the psychology research department. This summer’s program had interns in medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, nutrition, speech pathology, pharmacy, horticultural therapy, recreational therapy, and social work. Each department invites students to observe the work of professionals and assist in certain tasks.
On a typical day I shadowed a nurse from 8 to 3 and then attended interesting lectures by members of the medical field. I worked with patients being rehabilitated from devastating neurological injuries and diseases. During my stay I was able to see drastic changes in many of the patients and watch many of them recover well enough to get discharged. One particular patient that I followed throughout my internship was a 37-year-old man who had recently been paralyzed in a car accident, in which his two children passed away. When he was initially admitted, the patient was completely dependent on others to complete basic tasks. It was truly remarkable to see this quadriplegic patient who, through intense dedication and hard work, re-learned how to use utensils and dress himself. Even with his emotional and physical disabilities, the patient managed to remain motivated and inspire everyone around him. It was extremely satisfying to see the pride and excitement on his face as he made progress and accomplishments. The joy I felt as I watched this man recover heightened my desire to become a nurse.
Twice a week I attended team conferences with doctors, residents, physical and occupational therapists, psychologists, social workers, pharmacists, and nurses that all work together to maximize patient care. The team met for discussion and decision-making regarding patient care. These sessions help healthcare professionals keep up with every patient’s history and progress. During the conferences I was encouraged to ask questions and participate in discussion pertaining to patients' diagnoses and care plans. These conferences were great learning experiences; I was both surprised and impressed to see the interaction and cooperation among the doctors, nurses and therapists.
One unforgettable experience during my internship was observing an autopsy at the Chief Medical Examiners Office. I observed the medical examiner remove each organ and weigh, dissect and analyze them. After the organs had been removed, the technician began drawing blood samples from the heart and chest cavity. For me the most interesting organ was the heart. Being able to examine the coronary arteries, the aorta, and the chambers was an astonishing experience. It was a fascinating moment seeing all the intricate arteries and chambers that make the heart.
The HCOP internship was an amazing experience. Speaking with the nurses on my unit made me even more excited to start nursing classes this fall. This opportunity helped me realized that I am certain that I want to be a nurse in order to help patients succeed in reaching the highest quality of life and independence possible for them.