This week was the last one for 2010 summer immersion. My overall experience was very positive. I really enjoyed being able to see a variety of procedures, surgeries, and clinics. Although I was paired with one particular doctor, I think the experience was enhanced by being able to shadow other doctors as well. My research at Cornell in the van der Meulen lab deals with bone adaptation to mechanical loads, and so this summer I wanted to learn as much as I could about bone in a clinical setting as possible. To achieve this experience, I was able to attend a Metabolic Bone Disease Clinic, the Clinic for Skeletal Dysplasia, view orthopedic surgeries including total hip and knee replacements, shadow doctors during patient clinic hours, attend grand rounds, attend a number of lectures about bone topics, and be part of a research project evaluating wear in total knee implants. Also, I was able to spend a day in the ER and had the opportunity to view a cardio thoracic surgery. These seven weeks really flew by, and I know that I gained a lot of valuable experiences and information.
This week was my last visit to the Center for Skeletal Dysplasia with Dr. Raggio. There were fewer patients seen during the day than usual. One of the patients was a ~30-year-old woman who has been living with osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) Type I. Because she was a new patient, she did not feel comfortable with students coming into the room during the examination. However, I was able to see her for a few minutes and learned more about her during the patient conference afterwards. She actually leads a fairly normal life, and her stature at 4’ 10” is right around the level to not even be considered a little person. She is a great success story for OI. Her reason for contacting the center was just to make sure that she is doing everything she can to lead a healthy, normal life. Her fractures have been few and far in between, with the last occurring over a decade ago. Dr. Raggio wanted to have some x-rays and blood work done to take a look at her bones and to measure her calcium and vitamin D levels, just to keep her in check. Since I went to the center for three straight weeks, it was definitely one of my favorite experiences during summer immersion. I think the team involved really does care about the patients they treat, and it makes all the difference.
My project also took up a lot of time this week. I wanted to be sure that I had all the data and information necessary to move forward with the statistics. Earlier, I had begun to run some preliminary statistics on the scores for each region of the knee implants for both the med student’s and my grades. Also, I did a lot of background reading on the wear ratings for implants to get a good idea of the big picture. My statistics background is decent, but I have not gone much beyond t-tests and ANOVAs before, and so this week I also met with one of the research engineers to learn about the statistics she had ran previously on a similar study. It gave great insight to how I want to tell the story of this study.
This week we had our last summer immersion meeting and a farewell dinner. The dinner was wonderful, and it was a great way to end these seven weeks! When I get back to Ithaca, I will begin to write my paper for this class to put all my clinical experiences and research project together.