Although it seems as though my first day as an intern was just yesterday, in reality I have already completed 9 weeks at Women’s Center for Wellness! It is truly unreal to think about how quickly my time here flew by. On my first day, I was very shy and somewhat overwhelmed by the new environment. In fact, it seemed as though everyone was speaking another language – there were so many medical terms and abbreviations flying around that I had to wonder how I would ever understand what was going on around me. Well, as it turned out, my wonderful mentors soon helped me learn all about breast health, anatomy, and the systems in place that ensure women get the best care possible. To me, this was one of the most rewarding aspects of my internship; I am glad that I was able to learn so much about women’s health in such a short time. For example, I learned how to read the radiologist’s reports and decipher the corresponding BI-RADS codes to gain valuable insight into a patient’s case. I also feel as though I’ve learned how to quickly make a connection with a patient, so that they have a pleasant experience getting their mammogram. Because so many patients dread going in to see a doctor, I think learning how to provide the best personal experience possible will serve me well in my future as a medical professional.
This experience has taught me so much, and I hope to use my new knowledge to educate people about the misconceptions surrounding breast health, anatomy, and mammograms. It turns out that there is a lot of misinformation or questionable information surrounding these topics. With my first-hand experience, perhaps I can take an active role in Brandeis’s student activities by joining a club that can help me spread awareness.
Now that I have learned so much in this field, I would really like to continue working in women’s health. Although my time at Women’s Center for Wellness taught me a lot, I’m sure I have much more to learn. For example, I would love to learn more about how radiologists spot worrisome inconsistencies on patient’s mammograms, especially when the area of interest may be no more than a pinprick in size. It constantly amazes me that they can save someone’s life simply by looking very closely at an image. I am also eager to begin researching a related topic that has piqued my interest. I was recently informed that in 2009 the United States Preventative Task Force issued a statement claiming women should begin getting their yearly mammograms at age 50, not 40. There has been much disagreement and criticism surrounding this statement, and it has caused a decline in women under 50 getting mammograms. Unfortunately, Connecticut has the second highest rate of breast cancer in the country, so this relatively new statement may be hurting women who are walking around with undiagnosed breast cancer. This fall, I plan on performing in-depth research on this issue, and I’m sure I will learn even more about breast health in the process.
If I were to give a student seeking an internship at this organization any advice, I would tell them to be open to and actively seek out new perspectives and opportunities. I think my experience was enhanced by the fact that I tried to get to know as many people in my organization as possible, regardless of occupation. I quickly found that every position, no matter how far out of my range of interests it seemed at first, helped me develop a better idea of how a medical organization functions, what problems it encounters, and what solutions are sought. This is information that can help anyone in the medical field be a better, more valuable worker regardless of the area of specialization. Furthermore, anyone working in this field must always remember that the focus is on the patient, and therefore it is important to be as kind, compassionate, and smiling as possible. I believe that this advice can really be applied to any facility in the industry. No matter how you happen to be feeling that day, someone is relying on you to make their experience pleasant! A positive attitude is truly a great asset in this field, and I think I did a good job of conveying my positive attitude as an intern. While I am sad to be leaving the Women’s Center so soon, I feel proud to have met so many amazing people and am glad that I have had a lasting impact on them, as well!