The evolution of the program

Growing with the Program:

Through the Eyes of the Veteran Interns

Patrick Finnegan
Program: Science 2006-2009
Mentor: Marco Maurtua, MD
Department: Anesthesiology
School: Case Western Reserve University
Major: Anthropology and Chemistry
Career Goal: Anesthesiology or Emergency Medicine

Dani Fribourg
Program: Science 2006-2009
Mentor: William Seitz, Jr., MD
Department: Orthopaedic Surgery
School: Baldwin-Wallace College
Major: Neuroscience and Biology
Career Goal: Neuroscience or Orthopaedic Surgery

Interns Patrick Finnegan and Dani Fribourg have a unique perspective on the evolution of the summer internship program. Both of them have interned with Cleveland Clinic for four summers, beginning in 2006, the program's second year. As they have continued to return to Cleveland Clinic, Finnegan and Fribourg have seen and experienced the program's changes firsthand.

"Every year in the program, interns receive more experience and more opportunities," says Finnegan.

From the breadth of the research they are able to tackle to the procedures they can view, interns are receiving more every year as the program progresses. One of the most popular opportunities offered to these students is the chance to view surgeries. This, too, has advanced, according to Finnegan, who saw his first surgery during his third summer at Cleveland Clinic. "Now, most interns get to see a surgery in their first year," he says.

In addition to working with a mentor and gaining valuable experience in the areas to which they are assigned, interns are allowed to shadow other physicians and medical professionals of their choice to learn about as many fields as possible. "The opportunity to shadow outside your department has increased," says Finnegan. "There are more mentors, more departments, and more connections now. Every year, you're able to see more."

Although the observation and shadowing opportunities made available to interns are extremely valuable, many interns are surprised to learn that the program is decidedly hands-on. "When I first walked in, I thought I would only be shadowing," says Fribourg. "I soon realized that my expectations had been too low. I was thinking, Wow, we get to do this?"

Interns enter the program as high school students, but they're treated as adults. The responsibility that is placed on their shoulders has a positive effect on the way they work and the experience they take away from the program. "By the end of the summer, interns have matured into professionals," says Fribourg. "They know how doctors think. They can read and comprehend medical charts and journals. They grow into medically specialized students."

I'd love to be the first person from this program to be an intern, a peer mentor, and a mentor.

The addition of the newer, more specialized programs - Creative Learning, Medical Lab, Pharmacy, Radiology, Respiratory Therapy - has been valuable for students as well. "Not everybody wants to be a doctor or nurse," says Fribourg. "Interns are now considering more specialized areas. Opening these fields to interns gives them a clear view of what to expect if they're heading that way."

Finnegan and Fribourg also note the addition of Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) training for Nursing Interns, which allows these students to work directly with patients. "The internship has become more hands-on," says Fribourg. "There are so many opportunities and resources now; not using them would be a loss."

While praising the improvements that have taken place in the internship program, these interns mentioned further changes they hope to see in the future. In addition to the seven programs offered to interns now, Finnegan and Fribourg suggested internship programs in the areas of Psychology, Surgery, Emergency Medical Services, Nutrition, Occupational and Physical Therapy, and Neuroscience. In addition, they would like to see the program grow geographically along with the Clinic. "I'd like to see more expansion to Florida, Canada - Wherever the Clinic goes, the internship program should go," says Finnegan.

The program's goal of leading students into the medical field - and possibly back to Cleveland Clinic - has been successful for many, according to Finnegan and Fribourg. Both are in college and planning to go into medicine, and they are strongly considering returning to the Clinic.

"I'd love to be the first person from this program to be an intern, a peer mentor, and a mentor," says Finnegan, who is studying anthropology and chemistry at Case Western Reserve University and wants to go into either anesthesiology or emergency medicine.

Without the internship program, Fribourg says, he wouldn't be where he is today. "Working with a doctor one-on-one for nine weeks put me on the right path for med school. It gave me the key to who I am now," he says. "The internship has solidified my plans to be a doctor. Every year, a new door is opened to me." He is studying neuroscience at Baldwin-Wallace College and wants to go into neuroscience or orthopaedics.

Fribourg adds that the program has given him the desire to return to Cleveland Clinic as well. "I started at the Clinic; why not finish here?"