Research Intern Blog: Week Nine

Blog week nineTime flew fast this summer, and with our internship 75 percent over, we’re hard at work finishing up data collecting, preparing preliminary tables for data analysis, and working on our abstract write-ups, poster presentations, and final oral presentations.

The interns have continued to shadow in the clinic and the OR, participate in lunch and learns, and, this week, we went on a field trip to Jesse Edwards Registry to gain an in-depth understanding of pathology and heart structure. We have all had a wonderful time during our internships, and we are excited for the final couple of weeks.

Intern Dar had an opportunity to shadow Dr. Sengupta in the EP lab, observing an atrial fibrillation ablation. “I was amazed by the technology they had to create a 3-D image of the heart’s structure,” he said. “The probe that initially went in the heart before the ablations began had sensors on it that were able to collect data when the probe touched the heart’s wall and send the messages to a machine handled by a technician that worked for the device company.” It’s remarkable to see how technology improves procedures for physicians and, ultimately, patient outcomes.

Dr. Moore explained the evolution of ablations during her lunch & learn this week. She explained that the pentaray catheter and 3-D mapping using a CT scan enabled physicians to more accurately ablate the site of arrhythmias. Before the advent of this catheter, patients had multiple ablation procedures, which often did not fix the arrhythmia problems because clinicians were worried about damaging tissue. Alternately, they ablated too much and caused damage to the posterior esophagus. Intern Asad Rahmatullah said that he was excited to see images and presentations of CRT, which is a biventricular pacemaker used in patients with severe heart failure (and the second part of his project for the summer).

Also this week, intern Claudia shadowed Dr. Kasia Hryniewicz. “As it was Dr. Hryniewicz’s last day before leaving for Poland for 3 weeks, she was in a frenzy as she walked and talked fast to see all the patients she needed to see,” she said. “I saw how her job was more challenging than she let on. I really like her bedside manner and hope to be like that someday.”

Interns Sayja and Abhishek had a great time shadowing in the Genetic Arrhythmia Clinic (GAC). “It was interesting to see the interface between genetics and medicine that is present in the GAC,” Abhi said. “I also felt for the families and patients who are suffering from hereditary disorders. It is painful to have no control over your life through a disorder that is inherited via genes, and Dr. Sengupta showed a lot of compassion and care when talking to families and describing their situations.”

We had another lunch and learn from Dr. Ben Johnson, who is a fellow at MHI. He had a very informative presentation, explaining his mission trip in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It was awesome to see that he helped so many patients with mitral stenosis from rheumatic fever, but sad to learn that they could only help 25 out of every 1000 patients because many of the remaining patients suffered from mitral leakiness, which makes them unable to be treated for stenosis. Dr. Johnson gave us a new appreciation for the power of medicine to change patients’ lives.

On Thursday, we had the opportunity to visit the Jesse E. Edwards Cardiovascular Registry at United Hospital to get a taste of pathology in an intimate setting.”We walked into a very normal looking office and were led back to a back room that was filled with preserved hearts dating back to the 1950s,” intern Sajya describes. “Dr. Duncanson, the lead pathologist, explained to us how the Registry was set up and how it was now approaching a volume of 30,000 hearts. The Registry is used by medical examiners who need help understanding the cause of death in a patient as well as by valve-donors whose remaining heart portions are sent to the Registry for preservation. It was amazing to physically see conditions like an aortic dissection and a calcified valve that our projects and physicians are working on.” After visiting the Registry, we had lunch together at Cosetta’s, a St. Paul landmark institution.

The intern alumni feature of this week is Luis Ortega, who was at MHIF during the summer of 2013. Luis is beginning his second year of medical school at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Luis has continued to do research since his internship, and currently does community-based participatory research involving family-focused preventive interventions with the UMN Department of Family Medicine & Community Health.

Luis says that the most impactful intern experience for him was the relationships he was able to make with his peers and other members of the healthcare team. He states that, “MHIF made great efforts towards making us interns feel like a key part of the team,” and is thankful that the MHIF staff “really challenged us to be our best.” Luis believes that the MHIF internship shaped him because “it showed [him] that basic science research isn’t the holy grail of medical discovery that it can so often be made out to be…it goes hand in hand with translational research as it is applied to clinical and community settings.” Luis’s experience is just one of many that show the uniqueness of the MHIF internship. If not for the time spent at MHIF, many young interns would never be exposed to clinical research and the benefits it has on patient care and experiences.