For my first co-op I am working at the University Endoscopy Center (UEC) in Cincinnati. In this position, I primarily assist nurses, techs and other staff in their roles. On days when I am working at the nurse’s station or on the floor I make beds, lead patients back, call patients ahead of their procedures, help with office-related tasks, and make sure we are stocked on necessities like wipes, PPE, paper towels, and warm blankets for the patients. If I am doing “bedside,” or performing pre-cleaning on dirty scopes and preparing the room for the next patient, it is important that that be my primary task since it is necessary to be ready to change the room over quickly as it is easy for the center to fall behind schedule, but I still help out on the floor briefly if needed. I am also taking part in various learning opportunities such as attending conferences for residents and fellows at University of Cincinnati Medical Center and watching grand rounds, which doctors utilize to stay current in their field, shadowing, and observing procedures.
This co-op has been extremely valuable to me. It has given me a clearer idea of what I may want to pursue as a career, which I now believe should be veterinary medicine since the biomedical science I am learning about every day is fascinating, and I enjoy the clinical environment and tasks. I have also learned of and seen some of the things that can happen inside the colon and upper gastrointestinal tract and why relatively frequent screening procedures are vital to staying healthy and living a longer life.
Working at UEC and shadowing at UC Medical Center has allowed me to see how the healthcare system works and how it appears from the inside. Patient privacy is taken more seriously than I would have guessed. Peoples’ specific conditions can nearly be spoken freely about, but names and dates of birth are details that cannot be shared under most circumstances, and a patient’s name is rarely said by or to anyone outside of the patient’s care. Performing a procedure on the wrong patient is also a concern. Before each procedure, everyone in the room has to complete a “time out” in which they confirm the patient’s name, date of birth, procedure, consent to the procedure, name of the doctor, and everyone has to agree to the information and precautions before the procedure can proceed.
This co-op has also immersed me in some of our healthcare system’s problems. The science is advanced, yet the system itself is so painfully disorganized that it can be a nearly insurmountable barrier to receiving care. It should be obvious that healthcare can also be inaccessible for financial reasons; a lifesaving preventative procedure like a colonoscopy is not covered by all insurance, and many of the patients I interact with at least have a copay, while some pay out of pocket, and many of us don’t even have that privilege. The manifesto on UEC’s website (https://universityendoscopy.com) claims that the facility strives to provide affordable care, but of course this cannot always meet reality. Unequal access to quality healthcare is also a problem, and while shadowing I have seen patients who travel far to receive good care, not trusting the medical institutions in their own cities.
Overall, this co-op has been an invaluable opportunity to gain new knowledge, experience the healthcare system from a new perspective, and see what doctors, nurses and techs do on a daily basis.