For my STEP Signature Project, I worked as a research intern at Endocrinology Associates, Inc. in Columbus during the summer of 2017. The research we conducted focused on clinical diabetes, but also included studies for individuals with recent cardiac events. During this internship, I learned how to prepare blood samples, take vitals, and most importantly, how to appropriately interact with our many patients.
Before interning at this facility, I was extremely interested in the medical arena and was planning on pursuing a medical degree. Although I really enjoyed working with the patients and seeing how they progressed throughout the summer, my experiences doing lab work felt like a better fit for me. I am now exploring the possibility of attending graduate school and earning a PhD, or possibly a dual MD and PhD. The opportunity to conduct research this summer definitely shaped how I am going to move forward academically and professionally.
My interest in research definitely grew when I was working in the lab, preparing blood samples and the other labs. The attention to detail and independent work in the lab felt like a perfect fit for me. I was able to focus on the tasks at hand, and I felt quite comfortable being able to keep track of the different samples for multiple patients at once. All of the lab work was time sensitive, and although there were so many things happening at once, I truly thrived in that environment.
Working with the patients provided a completely different set of challenges and required a completely different sent of skills. Toward the end of the summer, I became more comfortable explaining details of the protocols to the patients, but overall, the interactions with those individuals was out of my comfort zone. Being able to articulate important medical information is a very special skill, and it is one that I have not fully developed yet.
I am not totally ruling out the desire to go to medical school, but through this position, I have come to love the more individual work that is done in the lab. I am still very passionate about both medicine and research and the overlapping of the two. However, I feel like I would be more comfortable and a lot happier in a more independent capacity, which is also possible in certain medical doctor positions.
This change is extremely significant in my life because I always thought I knew what I wanted to do: go to college, go to medical school, and become a family doctor. Now, I have no desire in the slightest to pursue family medicine, and have instead been exploring the route through medical school it would take to become a pathologist or radiologist, which require very limited patient interactions and more independent work. I have been speaking with some pathologists at the Medical Center at OSU, and all of them have advised me to get my MD and if I still feel the drive for research, then I will be able to do that as a medical doctor. However, if I am interested in a more involved research position, getting my PhD along with my MD is also a practical route.
Many important decisions are ahead of me, but my experience as a clinical research intern gave me a better idea of what I am interested in spending my life doing. I am so grateful for the opportunity to explore a different side of medicine and learn a lot about myself along the way. I am so excited to continue to learn what direction is the best for my career. I have recently joined a research lab at the Medical Center that will hopefully make my path a little more clear.
I wrote a weekly blog during my time as a research intern. You can see some of the pictures and read in a little more detail what I worked on at this website: https://lizzie4197.wixsite.com/website