What interns are observing

As the internship program has progressed, interns have received greater opportunities to observe what goes on throughout the hospital, and greater variety in what they are permitted to see. As high-schoolers, they are able to view the same procedures that med students are seeing for the first time during their residencies. Here, interns discuss specific procedures they had the opportunity to observe during the summer of 2009, and the effects they had.

My Turn

Rebecca McKinsey

Creative Learning Internship Program

Employee Communications

It was 8:30 a.m. and the operating room was buzzing with activity. As an 18-year-old summer intern who had just graduated from high school, I was about to witness an open-heart surgery.

My childhood dream of being a veterinarian had been nipped in the bud after what my classmates and I dismally referred to as "dissection week" in biology class. (Instead, I'm enrolled to study Journalism and Spanish beginning this fall.) Therefore I was, understandably, a little nervous for the heart surgery.

The first surprise came quickly – rather than observing from behind a glass screen in an adjoining room, I would be standing directly beside the operating table.

The surgery was already underway when I entered, and I was immediately fascinated. I barely noticed the time passing as I watched the process of replacing a heart valve from start to finish. The surgeon, Nicholas Smedira, MD and I were side by side, and he graciously answered each question I threw his way.

While the surgery itself was amazing, I noticed other meaningful details as well. There were two other doctors assisting the surgeon, and I watched as three sets of hands worked in tandem to perform this procedure. There was an obvious familiarity and trust between them, and I found it fascinating to see how well they worked together.

Up until this surgery, my experience at Cleveland Clinic had taken place, for the most part, far away from the clinical aspect of the organization. And while it has been gratifying to write about what is being done at Cleveland Clinic by employees and staff – as well as by my peer interns – working mainly from a computer screen sometimes made me forget that I was, in fact, employed by a hospital.

But in that operating room, I saw a human heart beating. I saw talented surgeons literally hold the life of a young mother in their hands. It was indescribably powerful. It opened my eyes to the most important and lasting function of Cleveland Clinic – improving health and saving lives. For someone who views Cleveland Clinic from a non-clinical angle, this experience put everything into perspective and reminded me just what it is I'm writing for. And that's something I'll never forget.