The USD Scripps Mercy Hospital Trauma Internship offers a unique experience for pre-medical students. Participants work alongside physicians as they care for injured patients and practice compassionate communication with their families.
Drs. Steven Shackford and Michael Sise of Scripps Mercy Hospital founded the internship with the help of USD alumna Jessica Kahl ’10. They also partnered with Professor and Chair of Psychology Michael Ichiyama, PhD, who created an elective course on the doctor-patient relationship. Their goal is to show students the many challenges and rewards of the medical profession.
“We focused our program on the privilege and honor of taking care of patients,” Sise said. “We repeatedly emphasize that our fundamental goal as physicians is to ease suffering. We also emphasize that helping patients and their families deal with the sorrow of illness or injury and the grief that accompanies the loss of loved ones are key to that goal.”
According to Shackford, both he and Sise were trained at Jesuit institutions, where service is emphasized. “We wanted to give back some of what we were taught about empathy and service,” he said.
Shackford said he and Sise started the program because many students indicate on medical school applications that they have little knowledge of what really goes on in a hospital. They hope the internship can give pre-med students a taste of what’s ahead.
“The journey from pre-med student to practicing physician is long and arduous,” Sise said. “It requires a vision of what the life of a doctor actually looks and feels like. It requires the ability to picture yourself in that life.”
Behavioral neuroscience major Brittany Bloomfield ’15 was impressed with the level of instruction provided to program participants.
“The residents, interns, and attending were very welcoming and took every opportunity to teach us something new and answer any questions,” Bloomfield said.
The program was a motivator for biochemistry major Sara Aranda ’15, whose medical goal is to treat underprivileged populations either internationally or domestically.
“Becoming a medical doctor is such a long process that sometimes we can forget why we are doing all of this work in the first place,” Aranda said. “This internship was a reminder of our end goal.”
Aranda had one especially moving experience at the hospital, when a shooting victim’s family was informed that his condition had improved to the point that he would likely survive his injuries.
“Seeing the family’s appreciation for what the doctors were doing was an amazing moment,” Aranda said. “It made me realize why I want to become a doctor.”
Biology major David Banks ’14 loved the hands-on nature of the internship.
“One surgeon showed us how to use ultrasound to detect blockage in an artery,” Banks said. “He showed us the sound that the ultrasound instrument makes when listening to an unblocked artery and then compared it to the pulse of a blocked artery and we could distinctly hear the difference. All of this was great preparation for a future in medicine.”
“This internship has cleared up all of my previous doubts about the medical profession and specifically trauma surgeons,” Banks said.
- Anne Malinoski ‘11