Boston Children’s Hospital, Department of Cardiology, Boston, MA
As for everyone, this summer was full of unexpected changes and required both flexibility and resilience when trying to figure out how to fill it with meaningful experiences. I feel extremely fortunate to have had the experience that I did with Dr. Alexander at Boston Children’s Hospital. Not only was Dr. Alexander kind, patient, joyful, and extremely knowledgeable about the field, he also was dedicated to making sure I had a fulfilling summer experience.
Of the experiences I was exposed to during my internship, my favorite by far was shadowing in the cardiac catheter lab. Before shadowing, I would change into blue scrubs, put on a hair net, and was given a headset through which the fellows, physicians, anesthesiologists, and the cath team would communicate throughout the procedure. What was especially powerful about shadowing in the cath lab for me was, when the procedure was over, they would clean up and pull back the covering placed over the face of the patient. After an hour of looking at a catheter ablate within a virtually constructed heart, seeing a child’s face at the end was a sharp reminder of the human connection to medicine.
The other major component of my internship involved remote clinical research that focused on collecting and analyzing data regarding activity level and changes in activity level in patients with cardiac rhythm management devices (PPMs, ICDs, LINQs) as assessed by their devices. Subsequent changes were measured and compared with levels of activity prior to the Covid-19 pandemic to those during the pandemic and ‘stay at home orders’ in Massachusetts. I enjoyed working on this project, especially because it pertained to such current events. It took a lot of communication to get the project off the ground, but once we started it really worked well as a remote experience. Towards the end of summer, we presented our work to the associate chief of cardiology and the director of the cardiac fitness program at BCH. They gave feedback and encouraged us to turn the findings into a paper—which we have begun to work on now!
I am excited that this experience occurred before entering into my last year at Williams. Through my time at Boston Children’s, I have gained excellent insight into the role of specialized pediatric healthcare providers, and how these providers adapt to treating children in a Covid-19 environment. After witnessing the intense passion and kindness in the field of pediatrics, I know that it is the right field for me one day. At the moment, I am on the pre-medical track, majoring in biology and concentrating in public health (with a long-term goal of participating in Doctors Beyond Borders). I am not sure exactly what path I would like to take in the medical field yet, but my time spent at Boston Children’s Hospital has only further reaffirmed my desire to pursue a career dedicated to bettering the health of children. Furthermore, I know that whatever field in pediatrics I choose to go into should have an element of long-term patient interaction and care. I am genuinely and truly grateful to Jill Simon Svoboda ’80, John Svoboda ’79, and the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for making this summer internship possible.