Michael D.

January 7th – January 14th (2.68 hours) –   One meaningful experience that I had in the internship program this week was learning the importance of following directions carefully and not be afraid to ask questions. This week, when I was extracting RNA, I was given a list of instructions to follow. I assumed that as long as I followed the instructions from the beginning I would be okay. However, I misheard my mentor and he had already told me to start from the 3rd step in the list and I got very lost after he explained it again to me, I had thought I had understood it. However, then I came across a step that I didn’t understand the vocabulary and attempted to do it despite not knowing what it meant. After about 5 minutes, I still didn’t know what to do and finally asked my mentor for help again. Asking questions has always been difficult for me because I never want to interrupt someone in what they’re doing so they help me, but I also need to understand that sometimes that’s what people such as my mentor are there to do. Therefore, I need to learn how to better read directions, but also not be afraid to ask questions when I am genuinely lost.

One technical skill that I have developed from my internship is how to follow directions in a lab and what procedures to follow. This is useful in such classes as chemistry, where I already understand standard lab procedures. For example, sterility is a basic skill that one needs to follow in any lab, and I have learned at my internship how to be sterile, such as not using the same pipette tip for multiple different liquids, how to dispose of chemicals, as well as when to wear gloves and when gloves aren’t needed. Another technical skill that I have learned at my internship is how to clean up after a lab, as it also relates to sterility. Cleaning a lab is important because if chemicals are left open or an area is left dirty, it can interfere with the results or an experiment or completely ruin it.

I would benefit from this information learned at my internship in any science class that I would need to take. I would already know how to clean up my area and stay sterile, as well as to know what chemicals are harmful and which are not. I would also already know how to dispose of toxic chemicals, and if I don’t know, then I would already know who to ask. Finally, I would also know how to use different machinery in a lab. For example, I would know how to use a BioDuct Hood should I ever need to use one in a science lab, or how to store cells in an incubator. As well, I would know what different types of equipment are used for, such as a centrifuge. Knowing what a centrifuge is and how to use it would be very important in a science class, such as biology.

This week I was tasked with completing RNA extraction, a process in where attempt to separate RNA from cell lines to study them. In that process, a substance called buffer is required to be used in order to prevent the RNA from being lost or have complications result from the process. Buffers are a solution of an acid and a base in order to prevent the pH of a separate solution from changing.

January 15th – January 28th () – 

January 29th – February 11th () –

February 12th – February 25th () –

February 26th – March 11th () – 

March 12th – March 25th () – 

March 26th – April 8th () – 

April 9th – April 22nd () – 

July 20th – August 13th (0 hours) – One experience that I had in the program is that I learned scheduling and conflicts in one’s schedules. There was a scheduling conflict for the interview that I had set up on Thursday, August 23rd, where I had to inform my two teachers of potentially being late for a Seminar the same day at 5:30pm. Because I informed them so early, they were understanding and accepted that I could be a little bit late. Also, going through the process of scheduling an interview and proper email etiquette was another thing that I had to go through and understand. For example, when I needed to send and email to schedule my interview, I went through countless business etiquette techniques and even had my family proofread the email before I sent it, just to make sure that the content was good and that there were no grammatical errors. I grew from this as it showed me just how smoothly yet constraining on how business etiquette really is.

I hope to learn how to better educate myself in the field of business etiquette. While I do understand what is appropriate and what is not in a professional field, I would much rather hone my skills in the area regardless to ensure that I have a extremely firm grasp. One thing I hope to learn while at my site is more about the oncology field and controversies in it to make a better report for my SEP Project. As well, I would like to learn more medical terminology as it would be more useful to know when I do decide to go into that field. I would also like to learn more about the field itself and whether or not I would like to be a doctor of any kind, as well as learning what doctor I would like to become in the first place.

I have learned basic business etiquette and the what to do’s and what not to do’s. I have also learned how to go through an interview process and what to do prior to it. For example, with my mentor, I had to look up his name and see what kind of work he really does in the oncology field. Knowing this will allow me to ask questions during the interview that will make me look better. Also, the first interview I had went through at the end of last year to know if I was going to be placed in the program itself also helped as it helped to prepare me for the upcoming interview. With all of these skills under my belt, I am able to properly prepare for the interview and be ready for whatever they ask. The program giving me this skill will allow me to interview later on in my life as well.

August 14th – August 27th (o hours) – Recently, I went into the interview for my internship with Dr. Nfonsam. Dr. Nfonsam was very nice and laid back, and didn’t really give a formal interview, but instead asked about the program and what I wanted to do and get from it. He also suggested that during my time there I write a paper on a topic of research that he wants me to write a paper on. I personally think that this is a wonderful opportunity for me and a very excited to start on August 27th. I believe that this is going to be a wonderful experience to learn and experience what a doctor does on a regular basis. I also learned what it was like to fill out paperwork regarding what a hospital needs you to have in order to work there, such as the Flu Vaccination and a TB Skin Test. From what I learned, there is a lot of liability that come with working in a medical facility.

August 28th – September 10th (7.18 hours) – One meaningful event that happened during my first 2 weeks of interning was that time and communication is very important. For example, everyday I have to drive for about 40 minutes to an hour to get to my site. Therefore, I have to calculate that time into my schedule and work as fast as I can in order to make it to my site on time. After one mistake of this, I learned that I need to leave my house a lot earlier or go directly from school to my site. Also, I learned that proper communication is needed to effectively obtain a proper schedule. With my mentor’s ever-changing schedule, I learned that I needed to communicate with her in order get the optimal amount of hours. This past week, I wasn’t able to come in on my regular days and had to communicate with her. However, I did not effectively communicate with her and was only able to get about 2 hours when my goal was 5.

My coworkers are very professional but casual at the same time. For having to work in the same lab, they have to get along, which they do, communicate with each other, and learn from each others mistakes. They also have to interact with other people around the lab and ask for permission to use equipment for their own sake. Personally, I already expected it to be this way, but I didn’t expect for it to be so casual as everyone in the department knows each other very well and gets along. Everyone there would much rather avoid drama then call someone out for say, not cleaning up their mess, which I found rather interesting. Expectations for working in a lab are not very high, mainly because everyone at that level of expertise already understands what is expected of them.

This is honestly not a natural fit for my regular conduct, but I know that I can change in order to fit in. Naturally, I am a shy person and if I were to work in this specific kind of setting, it would be very difficult for lack of communication. So far, I have been able to talk to my mentor and the other coworkers more in order to begin to fit in as I will be doing this for roughly around a year. Furthermore, I am also learning how to step out of my comfort zone in order to talk to others that I don’t know very well in order to fit in better as well. With this knowledge, I hope to not only be able to fit in the atmosphere of the lab, but also become a better person all around. In doing so, this will help me grow into a better person for when I begin my journey into the professional field as an adult.

There are quite a few terms that I have come across in not understanding, but a particular one would be the Bioduct. The Bioduct is an area in a lab where one can carry out experiments and other procedures in a sterile environment. This area not only has a dedicated room, but each singular lab also has one for specific purposes. A Bioduct will always prevent outside germs going in and harmful/poisonous chemicals from releasing into the open air.

September 11th – September 24th (9.4 hours) – Recently, I was able to go into the O.R. and observe a surgery. There I learned a lot about what each of the doctors in the room do, how they do their jobs, and what needs to be avoided. While at first, I did expect to be grossed out by the entire experience, I more leaned towards interest in what was going on. The surgery went well, and the doctors performed very well. One thing that I enjoyed was looking at the organ they took out, as it was very damaged and was interesting to glance at. One thing about surgery that I did not like was when they used a tool that cauterized organs, as the smell of burning skin was not very pleasing. However, while it may have disgusted me, in the end, it did not turn me away from wanting to go in again.

Lab Acquired Infection – an infection or other illness obtained from a lab accident or misuse of lab equipment. Must be reported to head of the department and can be avoided by using lab materials properly.

September 25th – October 8th (33.27 hours) – Recently, I have been able to go and follow Dr. Nfonsam more around the hospital. On Tuesday of last week, i was able to follow him around the hospital while he was giving colonoscopies to patients and learn his routine in doing so. Not only did I learn about how hard it is to administer a colonoscopy, but I also learned about traversing through one and the anatomy of it. Personally, I still think that it’s a bit odd to learn about, as the doctors in the room are very nonchalant about having a conversation while a person has an incision in the body. It’s also still weird for me to look at the inside of a human body as well because this entire experience is new to me. Also, because I took my biosafety courses, I am allowed to do more around the lab, and I have been learning how to run tests, such as a gel electrophoresis machine or a PCR test.

I use in-person conversation the most as most of the time I am in the room with one of my mentors. The only time I ever email or text my mentors is when I am trying to plan a day when to come in or find them in the hospital. But, because the hospital has not so great cell service, it makes it difficult to communicate via text or phone call, which is why I typically just stick around them. Talking in-person at my site is important because med school students are expected to ask a lot of questions when they shadow and observe situations. As so, I am expected to do the same to a certain degree. Because I don’t know proper medical terminology, I am more or less inclined to ask questions about the body itself rather than the operation. While in the lab, communication is also important because it’s useful (and follows safety protocol) to communicate and discuss when learning new techniques in a lab. Without that degree of communication, there would surely be an easily avoided accident.

While talking to my mentors is easy, it’s also difficult because sometimes I don’t know the proper times to ask questions. While in the OR, I can’t ask Dr. Nfonsam right away about something because he is operating on a patient, resulting in me needing to ask someone like the registered nurse what is going on. However, each person in the room has a job and I’d rather not interfere with a surgery that could mean someone’s life if messed up, so I typically tend to ask questions when there is a break or after the procedure. In the lab, communication is a little bit easier, but I then begin to run into the problem of not knowing what to do in the lab when I’m tasked to carry out a test. For example, the responsibility of making the agarose gel for the gel electrophoresis machine falls on me, but somehow I manage to mess up one way or another, like not melting it enough or I pour it in the machine in a way that it is not evenly distributed. Therefore, I either feel bad about asking when I mess up because I feel guilty for messing up a simple task or about reporting that I need help. I understand that I am still learning, but it’s still a difficult process nonetheless.

Biosafety Levels – there are 4 biosafety levels of varying danger levels, 1 being the least dangerous while 4 is the highest danger level. If you are at a level 4 biosafety risk, there are a lot more protocols to follow to avoid injury or contamination.

October 9th – October 22nd (9.31 hours) – One meaningful experience I had was about learning how to do tasks on my own. As part of the position I have, it requires me to learn how to run all the tests that each of the lab workers run. As such, someone like me who has little to no science background, finds this very difficult, and as such I need to put in extra effort outside of the internship to make sure that I keep up. However, I still feel like I’m not fully grasping some of the ideas, and then need to rely on my mentors to know how to do things. One example of this was when I was learning about cell cultures. Even though I had defined it and they had defined it, I still didn’t understand what the purpose of them was. In the end I eventually understood, but I realized that the information I was making myself learn was only about what they talked about, not what I needed to know. As such, this made me confused and since then I have learned to be less dependent on my mentors about learning and more dependent on myself for learning.

cell culture – the process of isolating a cell and testing its reactions by treating it under different conditions

October 23rd – November 5th (3.86 hours) – One meaningful experience that I had was learning more and more about what the lab’s main goal is. The lab works on learning about different ways to treat colorectal cancer, and the answer behind it comes from a human protein named cartilage oligomeric matrix protein, or simply COMP. Back when the first colon cancer was diagnosed, and doctors were working on how to treat, they were able to pin point that the answer lied in that DNA, which is now the basis of the majority, if not, all colorectal cancer research. This I really did not have a grasp on, so when my mentors kept referring to it, I never understood what the purpose in what they were trying to accomplish. Now I realize that asking questions is very important, even if they may seem basic or dumb. If I had never asked about COMP, I would most likely have never understood the purpose of the lab itself, which would have looked bad on my part.

One of the people I work closely with is an undergrad who does research in the lab. I run all my questions and lessons from him and we converse regularly. He’s given me homework assignments to better my knowledge about what we have learned as well. He’s also instructed me in logging into my U of A netID account and showing me how to take my biosafety courses. We usually, if not always, converse in person about anything that we need to talk about, but when we aren’t in person, he emails tasks that I’ll see the next day, or if he wants me to do something at the moment he will text me. For example, the lab is about to go through an audit and it needed all my safety certifications so the lab isn’t liable. He texted me to send him all my certifications because the lab was unsure of when they were getting audited and wanted to be safe in having all my certifications.

I haven’t really ever interacted with a coworker on a social level other than small talk. One of my mentors and the undergrad student have a banter with each other that I’ll occasionally join in on, but other than that it’s purely work related. There are few times I’ve talked to other people in the hospital because I was explaining the internship program to them or I knew them prior. For example, the first time I went into the OR, the anesthesiologist was asking how an 18 year old managed to get to observe a surgery and I explained to her the program. She then proceeded to ask if her daughter could join and then I explained to her the criteria. There was another time that I was helping transport colon samples from different labs and I ran into someone my sister went to middle school with. I conversed with her and we talked about my sister.

metastatic cancer – also known as Stage 4 cancer, when cancer cells in a specified area spread throughout the body and can detrimental health issues; always fatal.

November 6th – November 19th (7 hours) – One meaningful experience that I have had was finally getting into the motion of all the tasks that I have been assigned to do at the lab. While beforehand, I knew what I had to do and how to do it, I was still very cautious and tedious when I did not need to and asked questions to topics that I already knew. However, over the past 2 weeks, the times that I went in, I just started to get the hang of what exactly I was doing. For example, one of the tasks that I am assigned to do on the days that I come is the change the media in the HT29 cells. The media is important to the cells because it provides sustenance to them. If the media is not changed every 2 days (excluding weekends) then the cells will not have any thing to live off of and die. Changing the media is inherently not that difficult, but prior, when I would change the media, I would need to look closely at my instruction sheet, but the most previous time I did it, I looked at it once to check the amount of media I had to take out and put in.

I believe that my attendance has been handled fairly well. There was one instance over fall break where there was a miscommunication that resulted in me missing a day, but since then, I have not missed a day unless I informed my mentors prior. For example, whenever I needed to go on a field trip for my environmental science class, I would forewarn my mentors the day I would come in, since I come in on Mondays and Fridays. Other scheduling conflicts that have happened were holidays, which we discussed on days before the holiday would come up (an example being Thanksgiving and the Friday following it). The schedule that my mentors and I had established at the beginning of the year so far, has worked for each us, as I am not part of any school clubs, I can come in on any day. Because my mentors have classes Tuesday-Thursday, Mondays and Fridays did, indeed, work for us.

My time management skills with school and my internship have been fairly good, with some instances needing improvement. An issue that only plagued me once was when I had something to do after school and as a result, gave me less time to get back to my house and get ready to go to the hospital. I am not in any clubs that meet on Mondays and Fridays, so that never had any issues in scheduling. However, when it comes to doing homework after coming from my internship, that became a little bit problematic. On days where I got to leave my internship at 4 instead of 5, I would be able to get home by 4:45ish. However, if I left at 4:45 and beyond, I would get home at 6 because of the long drive home. This would affect how much time I would have to work on my homework, especially on nights where I had a particularly large amount to work on. However, this was rare and other than that, I never really ran into time management issues.

RNA – ribonucleic acid. An acid that is found in all cells and acts as a messenger to DNA on how to construct itself.