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!

being the only girl in the room

A few weeks ago I started making observations about the demographics of my classes.

There always seem to be the same kind of people in each class I take. The majority of the students are white males – most of them are quiet and awkward but there are usually a handful of bros. There are one or two foreign guys who don’t speak a lot of English. If I’m not the only woman in the class then there’s usually only one other and she’s quiet and looks confused (or is obnoxiously loud about how confused and frustrated she is). And then of course me.

I haven’t run into any terribly overt sexism here, which I’m thankful for. But what I’ve realized is that I’m almost invisible; so it’s not that anyone is trying hard to be mean to me, they just aren’t trying to be anything at all to me. Mostly this results in me just not chatting during class, but there have been occasions where the students and even professors will say things that strike me as very “guys only” things to say. Things like “oh keep girls away from my video games, that’s man time” while I’m sitting right there clearly interested in tech/gaming etc…. they aren’t trying to be exclusionary they literally just do not know any better.

The most recent, and frustrating, was yesterday. I and one other student (male) had made some fairly significant coding contributions during class and then at the end when everyone was packing up, someone else in class said to the male student “Nice work _______, you’re the only one here that got that to work!”. Not even a glance in my direction for the work I had done.

I know it shouldn’t bother me. But it just feels like if I were a guy, I would also be getting the praise. But I’m not, so I’m just flat out ignored.