Nth Dimensions would like to thank our 2017 Orthopaedic Summer Intern and 2nd year Medical Student, Anje'le Alston for sharing her original blog post with us.
Disclaimer: This will be a very abbreviated version of what I experienced this summer.
I learned of this internship opportunity while I was volunteering for a SawBones Skills workshop at the national LMSA conference held at WesternU in the spring of 2016. It was definitely fate that I was on the assignment to present the speakers for this workshop. I immediately fell in love with Dr. William Ross who gave this wonderful presentation about how the field of orthopaedics is severely lacking women and people of color. He was very energetic about his presentation and made it seem like becoming an orthopaedic surgeon is definitely attainable as long as you are willing to put in the work. I participated in the workshop which included different stations with broken bones (saw bones) where we got to use drills, plates, nails, external fixators, and everything else to repair the fractures. It was a lot of fun, and I was hooked! I signed up, went through the application process, and it was a wrap!
Orientation took place in Virginia the weekend right before my Musculoskeletal final for class. All of the other interns had finished first-year weeks ago. The first night we had a small mixer to get to know one another to include the other interns and the staff. All day Saturday was spent in the gorgeous American College of Radiology headquarters where went spent about eight hours discussing everything from what to expect from the internship, the lack of diversity in orthopaedics, unconscious bias, and what to expect from the field of orthopaedics overall. There were also two physical therapy interns and five radiology interns with the rest of the 20 or so interns in orthpaedics. We got lots of swag which is always much appreciated! Once the day was over I headed to a local shopping/entertainment center with another intern where I studied for my upcoming exam while the rest of the interns went out and enjoyed themselves. After the orientation everyone headed off to their internship sites except for my roommate who was starting the internship later in the summer and myself because I still finish off second year.
For the internship I was paired with Dr. William Long who works in a private practice with a group of joint replacement surgeons in Los Angeles. Every day I commuted about an hour in the mornings to get to the site, and another one and a half to two hours to get home in rush hour traffic. Most of the other interns were in sites other than where they were attending medical school so they had rented places nearby. I essentially listened to all of the podcasts my little heart could desire.
Working with Dr. Long was an incredible experience. Since I was not at a major academic institution I was able to spend a lot of one-on-one time with Dr. Long rather than competing with other medical students and/or residents. Mondays and Thursdays were his clinic days. For the first few weeks I would shadow him in clinic as he saw his patients. He would even take time out of his visit with the patient to teach me relevant things. Dr. Long really did care about his patients, and it was not abnormal for him to spend up to 45 minutes with a patient. His passion for his work was inspiring. Towards the end of the internship I spent the majority of clinic days working on my research poster. Tuesdays and Wednesdays were surgery days, my favorite! All of my past OR experiences were mainly just me in a corner looking at a screen if a scope was being used or standing on a stool trying to peer over everyone’s heads to see what was happening. Now that I was a medical student the experience was very different, and I could not have asked for a better view of the operation. I held retractors (not for the faint of heart), used the big mallet (woot), pulled pins, placed pins, drilled, and sutured! It was quite incredible the things I was able to do and see. Best of all was that Dr. Long would teach me throughout the surgery so I was able to keep up which was a very above and beyond thing for him to do for me. The staff Dr. Long works with were all such wonderful kind people who made my experience as enjoyable as it could have possibly been. I can only hope to have an OR team like that one day. They all looked out for each other, and they operated like a well-oiled machine even through difficult cases. Working with Dr. Long for these seven weeks was a great exposure to orthopaedics and he did not hold back from showing me all aspects of the field and of being a physician in general, the good, the bad, and the ugly. It was not enough to dissuade me from orthopaedics, but I am glad I am more aware of certain things so I will know how to pivot when challenges come my way.
NATIONAL MEDICAL ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE
Part of the internship was to present a research poster at the National Medical Conference which this year was in Philadelphia. This was such a fun trip! We had another mixer with all of the Nth fam filled with food, speeches, and catching up. The following morning at the conference we started off listening to research presentations from medical students and residents at the orthopaedic section meeting. Then all of the interns spent about an hour presenting our respective posters to the Nth Dimensions staff, physicians, medical students, NMA attendees etc. I enjoyed presenting my work, and I wish we had more time to present. The rest of the conference day was spent at an incredible women’s empowerment workshop which was AMA-ZA-ZING! The vibe in that room filled with lovely mocha women physicians was beyond words! Once we were done with the conference activities I chilled with the other interns in the hotel before going out and exploring the city. It was a great trip, and I can’t wait to visit Philly again some day.
Overall this experience was incredible, and I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to participate! I do not think I could have planned out a better summer for myself. For any students out there interested in orthopaedics, radiology, or physical therapy (I’m sure other specialties will be included in the very near future) I would highly recommend applying for this opportunity!