Cameron – Midway Point

In my earlier post I noted my uncertainty and tentative excitement for the summer ahead, and while waiting for my badge to be printed on my first day, I found myself again filled with these feelings — and with a couple questions too: Who will I work most closely with? What projects will I get to work on?

Looking back at my time here at MGH, my first few weeks have been filled with so many new experiences and people — and together they’ve more than answered my initial questions. MGH is the largest hospital I’ve worked in, and I’m continually impressed by the seemingly endless labyrinth of hallways and staircases. Still, I hope sharing my experiences can lend some insight beyond the hallways: From clinical research in the office to surgeries in the OR.

I spent my first days entering patient surveys and charts into databases for the Center for Pelvic Floor Disorders and the Department of General and Gastrointestinal Surgery. Once I was comfortable with data entry, I was tasked with updating and designing some new database surveys for MGH and collaborating surgery centers. From there, I worked through journal articles to collect ranges of recommended ages for colorectal cancer screening. While working through databases and articles I started asking: Why is it important for clinicians to collaborate on clinical journal articles? Physicians and Nurse Practitioners are often the first ones in the office after rounds, and the last ones to leave after finishing up patient notes — so how do they prioritize publishing and discussing articles?

During my second week, I shadowed surgeons in the OR. While explaining the procedures, surgeons didn’t hesitate to reference recent clinical research discoveries as support for performing a specific type of surgery. Throughout my weeks at MGH, surgeons and research residents have frequently discussed how studies guide decisions in the clinic (for example, risk factors for cancer), during surgeries, and during post-operative care (to reduce readmission). From this, I can see how essential it is for surgeons to continually review recent screening, surgical, and post-surgical statistics.

Above, I asked how clinicians prioritize being immersed in the scientific literature. When something a nurse practitioner reads today can affect the patient of tomorrow, and when a surgeon collaborates on an article for next month that could in turn help multitudes more patients — the benefits can be powerful and far reaching. For these reasons, I’m continually inspired to work through even repetitive tasks like data entry, because I admire the potential that data could one day have. Still, I have yet to turn down an invitation to escape patient files for a trip to shadow in the OR.

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