Animas High School LINK
What is a LINK internship?
The LINK (Leading Internships for New Knowledge) internship is one that is exclusive to Animas High School. It presents an opportunity for juniors to go out into the real world, finding an internship and putting in (30-40) hours throughout the three week duration. While at an internship, the each student gets a mentor, someone to follow and show them the ropes of the profession. The students goals are to gather up as much knowledge as possible as well as create a project benefiting the establishment they are at. This opportunity is given in the hope that students will learn how to apply their 21rst century skills outside of the classroom.
Throughout the duration of my LINK project, my personal goal was to soak up as much knowledge as I possibly could. However, after these three weeks, I have learned more than I ever imagined. I was able to sit in on different cervical and lumbar surgeries and get merely inches away from the incision, see patients in the clinic both in pre-op and post-op conditions, watch x-ray guided injections, and attend a workers comp. conference and watch my mentor speak at UNM (University of New Mexico).
Going into my LINK internship, my skills with human interaction and ability to be absurdly polite if I so desire set me up for success during my LINK. I met a plethora of people from hospital staff to patients, and regardless of who they were, you needed to be respectful. The MRMC along with Spine Colorado were places that had to truly uphold a culture of excellence because a hospital isn't somewhere you go as a patient if you are doing your best, and that can be stressful.
Some of the most important skills that I learned during my time there were found in the OR, where I had to truly respect others space and certain space around the room, be careful to write down my questions, to not be a nuisance with the questions or comments I may have, and to use my resources more so than just word of mouth around the office. I had access to the different slideshows created amongst the staff that went over the anatomy, diagnosis, different operations, and surgery outcomes, as well as a surplus of articles answering different questions of some of the preparation complications, such as the affects of morbid obesity and smoking nicotine after surgery.
Some challenges that lead to growth during my internship include having a good daily morning schedule that included waking up, showering, eating food, and driving to the campus by 7 15 every day. This was really difficult for me in the first week and on a couple of days, I was actually late. Another challenge I faced was refraining from moving around, talking, sitting, or playing around on my phone every day. When we were in both clinic and surgery, I was never told this but I tried to not be seen or heard, to not hinder the professionalism with the appointment.
My importance in this organization is that of providing fresh eyes to the process. Even the youngest employee at Spine Colorado had at least ten years on me, and the pressure was on to represent youth, especially from Animas High School, in a mannered way. I was not the first interns from Animas to be there, but I was the first in six years, and in my special case the CEO allowed me to persue my internship.
This internship has helped me immensely in my college prep and future plans. This has now confirmed orthopedics as a passion for me and an ultimate goal for my profession. I have now confirmed my college list with majors as well as what I will do in the time before then. I am planning to attend more internships through out this summer as well as other medical programs I can find myself in. In addition, my mentor offered to write me a letter of recommendation, which is huge, especially because he went to two of the colleges on my list ( Denver University and Colorado University of Boulder). Ultimately, this has been one of the best experiences of my life.
What is Spine Colorado?
In their own words:
Spine Colorado is a multidisciplinary, highly acclaimed, regional spine center for the treatment of back and neck problems across the Four Corners area. Spine Colorado includes three fellowship trained spine surgeons working alongside a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician, physician assistants and nurses who are committed to utilizing the most advanced diagnostic technology and evaluating techniques. In addition, Spine Colorado physicians and staff work collaboratively with neurologists, neuropsychologists and specialized spine physical therapists to uncover the best possible treatment and outcome in patient care.
Spine Colorado can be located at 1 Mercado St #200
Durango, CO 81301
LINK Anticipation and Preparation
In the case of my internship, I was truly blessed. I was able to follow a family friend whose profession had intrigued me for years prior. My mother worked at Spine Colorado some six or seven years ago and in that time she was introduced to my mentor, Dr. Douglas Orndorff. As a result, I was also introduced to him as they began to become friends. Ten year old me was fascinated with the work that he did and asked to follow him in the future, fast forward to my junior year that ended up actually happening. So finding my LINK internship was the easy part, yet the preparation was the difficult part. I hadn't taken the anatomy course offered at animas, and I needed to learn a surplus amount of information about the spine and neurology along with it. This in itself was extremely challenging, as I was learning an entirely new language and was soon to be in an environment where everyone is fluent. That in itself was the only maritable challenge that I encountered, other than standing for hours on end, and the nauseating smell of cauterized flesh.
While at Spine Colorado and the Mercy Regional Medical Center, I met a plethora of medical professionals including the three surgeons at Spine Colorado as well as countless others at the MRMC, the scrub techs, x-ray techs, cardiac monitors, neurologists, RN's, Physician Assistants, and Nuvasive representer. Surprisingly enough, there were only two occasions in which my participation was limited, which both happened to be in the same surgery, by the same RN due to the parameters of the surgery, and the fact that the chance of infection while installing hardware drastically decreases with the amount of people present.
As stated above, I have been fascinated with orthopedics since childhood, and I truly wanted to get a taste of the life that I am striving for. In addition, I have known my mentor for many years now, and Spine Colorado has had a five star health grade rating for the last seven years. Ergo everything seemed to fall into place.
I went into this internship simply hoping to soak up as much knowledge around medicine and being an orthopedic surgeon, and to try to understand what the profession entails (as my background knowledge to surgery and being a surgeon has been limited to television shows such as Grey Anatomy). I wasn't expecting to bring anything to the business due to its professionalism other than a fresh set of eyes, a great attitude, and the will to learn. I'd like to leave the staff with a new respect for both interns and high school students. It is such an honor to be there at such a young age with so many overly qualified people, and I wanted to show them that not all millennials lack work ethic.