Co-op Month 1: Complete

I’m winding down on my first month of co-op, and it hardly seems possible that an entire month has gone by already.

I’m amazed at how much I’ve learned in a month.

I have a deeper understand of how intricate and complicated of a process it is to keep a hospital this size running. It boggles my mind to know how many different factors have to work properly to successfully take a patient through pre/intra/post op.

My experience so far has been a mixture of day-to-day user support along with longer, in depth projects related to maintenance of equipment, preparing for Epic, and helping create documentation to teach other people (maybe future interns!) to do what I do.

A big thing I’ve learned in regards to user-support and trouble shooting is that if you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebras. That is – look for a simple and likely explanation. Usually that means a cable is unplugged or a PC needs to be restarted. I’ve also realized how important it is to stay calm, and work through the problem methodically. It is so hard to ask for help, so when I’m going on a call I don’t want to give off the impression that the person is a hassle or is bothering me (because they aren’t and they shouldn’t be), which leads me into my goals for this internship.

My supervisor sat down with me to talk about how the co-op is going, and he encouraged me to think of what I wanted to get out of it and what goals I wanted to set for myself. In addition to some technical-related goals, I set a personal goal that I don’t want to find myself feeling negative or irritated about user support.

Not many people have actual training with computers, so there’s really no reason for them to be able to fix these problems themselves. And quite frankly I don’t blame them for being timid about pressing buttons – for me it’s not a big deal to identify the little box that houses the PC on an anesthesia machine, but to someone who has no idea what they are looking for the entire thing just looks like one big machine with lots of button and wires. And honestly I do think it’s better for them to just call for help, rather than risk turning a simply fixed problem into a larger issue.

I’ll leave this with a photo I took of the Ether Dome. Located right here at MGH, it was the birth place of Anesthesia in 1846.

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co-op week 3

I’m nearing the end of week three of my co-op. Time is really flying by, and although my days are somewhat long it seems like they go by in the blink of an eye with all the new things I’m learning to do.

When I decided to move on from SMCC without finishing my associates degree in computer technology, it was (in part) because I had realized I really didn’t want to be an IT Help Desk person, and I could see how it would be very easy to get settled into a job like that and lose inertia to keep pushing forward. Moving from that to Biomedical Engineering, I really had this feeling like I needed to firmly shut the door on that type of work.

So naturally I’ve taken an IT Systems Co-op 😉

I was actually quite nervous about accepting the position, while simultaneously being very excited and flattered to get the offer. My concern was that I would spend a semester as a help desk drone, not using any of my biomed knowledge. To be quite honest, so far I’ve found myself using mostly skills I learned at SMCC, with the Biomed education acting as more of a general backdrop to give things context.

I’m starting to realize what a powerful mixture computer technology and biomedical engineering is, to the point where I’m finding myself wanting to seek out supplementary material on computer science to really brush up on what I learned 3-4 years ago.

What I’m seeing at MGH is that through my day-to-day activities getting familiar with how the ORs work I will be able to identify areas that could be improved, and use my BMED/Comp Tech knowledge to come up with improvements. Being around the operating rooms and recovery spaces, I am acutely aware of how intertwined computer technology and biomedical engineering truly are. All of the devices that I support within the Department of Anesthesia have some computer/network aspect that’s incredibly important to understand in order to trouble shoot.

The other thing I’m learning is just how exhausting it is to work at a hospital. So with that, good night!

Co-op Week 1&2

Wahoo, 4 years since I last wrote! I’m really interested that the last time I wrote here, I was still working on an associates degree in computer technology. I’m actually now two years away from a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering, and just began my first co-op experience at Mass General Hospital two weeks ago. My position is the IT Systems Co-op in the Department of Anesthesia and perioperative care.

So what on Earth do I even do? In just my first two weeks I’ve had exposure to many different projects ranging from IT assistance in the operating rooms, to upgrading software libraries on automatic syringe pumps, to testing equipment for software upgrade readiness. I’ve also been able to sit in on meetings with software developers who are helping shape the new systems coming into the hospital, which has given really interesting prospective on the big picture.

I’m so excited for the next 4 months!