The forensic biology program has so many possible career options, which may cause some difficulty in finding an internship if a career path is uncertain. Thankfully I have always known I wanted to work in the medical field so this was the perfect internship for me. My internship with Vive Peru combined my love of travel with my desire to learn more about the medical field. With this program, I was able to shadow doctors from several different specialties in multiple hospitals and clinics in Trujillo, Peru, assist with large medical campaigns, and volunteer in a small community adjacent to Trujillo.
Due to the nature of the program, shadowing doctors in hospitals in a foreign country, it was very structured and the only decisions I could make was which doctor I wanted to shadow that day. However, creativity could be used for the volunteer efforts. I could do all of the decision making for what activities we were going to do with the children we worked with, with only one constraint: the activity had to be related to public health. Due to the structure of the program, the learning objectives were set out for each of the hospitals we visited based on what the previous volunteers experienced in the past.
My microbiology course at ERAU was beyond helpful when working in the lab and explaining what was going on to my interpreter who did not understand any medical or biological sciences. I was able to point out differences between the way the labs run in Peru versus what we were taught in class. Many of the differences throughout the hospitals and clinics, not just in the labs, were due to lack of funding and supplies. It was definitely a culture shock to see the lack of sanitation and sterilization, but that only happened because they did not have enough supplies to use a new set of gloves or dental tools or even agar plates for each patient.
I am so grateful for this internship and opportunity. Peru was a beautiful place with beautiful people. The program does an amazing job of connecting volunteers with the community and making a real difference in the community. Many of the patients at the free medical campaigns said the only go see the doctors when these medical campaigns were held as they could not afford to see a doctor otherwise. The children in the community where I volunteered are so grateful for us and were so sad to see us leave. Learning about medicine and watching doctors work was amazing but seeing the change that my contribution made to the community was much more fulfilling.
As an undergraduate student, finding internships in the medical field can be tough; most medical facilities are unable to grant undergraduate students an internship because they already have contracts with medical schools. Knowing this, I approached my biology professor, Dr. Eaton, to see if she had any creative ideas for an internship. I was pleased to hear that she had several and the one that popped out to me most was an internship at an animal hospital. Before I knew it, I was sitting in the office of the office manager at Prescott Animal Hospital discussing internship timelines and objectives.
My Embry-Riddle Forensic Biology internship at the Prescott Animal Hospital
The way we decided to design my internship experience was to start with simpler tasks and work my way up. This gave me ample opportunity to get to know the hospital and to really get the most out of my experience. I spent time in patient rooms, lab, radiology, dental, and finally worked my way up to the surgical suite.
Each area was exciting for me and I learned something new every day– whether it was something medical or about the equipment or myself or individual patients. Although I enjoyed each aspect of my internship, my favorite part was the surgical suite. Dr. Skinner was the surgeon I followed almost exclusively and he made the surgical experience exciting and loaded with information to learn. Dr. Skinner took the time to explain each task he performed whether it was which suture he used or the direction in which he cut the surgical site. I couldn’t be more thankful for the time I spent in surgery with Dr. Skinner; he was a wealth of information and experience. One of my favorite parts of surgery was that even when everything was planned and carefully thought out, if the body (after being opened up) showed that it required a different plan of action Dr. Skinner and his colleagues were able to assess the situation and revise any techniques. This took constant vigilance and it was amazing to see the gears in the doctors’ head turning in order to figure out a solution.
After the summer of working at the animal hospital and confirming my love for surgical medicine, I was thankful for all the experiences ERAU gave me to prepare me for my time at the hospital. Because of the classes I took at Riddle, I was able to be a part of the conversation and understand the terminology being used. I am so grateful for all I learned and hope other students are able to experience something so wonderful as my time spent at Prescott Animal Hospital!