Colton in Dallas

Colton is a junior Hunt Scholar majoring in biology, with minors in chemistry and Spanish, in Dedman College. For summer 2010, he has been selected to participate as a Collegiate Fellow in the summer internship program at Dallas’ Parkland Hospital.

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So many specialties

As the days turned to weeks, I continued to grow more and more familiar with Parkland Hospital. I had survived my so-called “tours of duty” in countless sub-specialties within the cardiology department. The similarities between the sub-specialties were obviously there, as all of the areas involved problems with the heart. However, the vast amount of technology and refined techniques designed to diagnose varying problems in the heart couldn’t even be compared. This seemingly simple observation explains why the medical profession continues to expand and demand more professionals.

There was the catheterization laboratory in the basement. This process is specifically designed to enter through arteries in the leg and insert stents in the heart to help prevent blockages, thereby also decreasing the risk of heart attack.

There was the EKG clinic where outpatients made appointments similar to a doctor’s visit in order to check their heart. Oftentimes these patients were suffering from congestive heart failure, or their primary care (family medicine) physician had sent their patient to the clinic in order to check the strength of the patient’s heart before a potential organ transplant.

Down the hallway, in the basement, was my favorite area to work – what I liked to call my “home base,” the EKG department. In this department, EKG technicians travel throughout the hospital to bed stricken/confined patients, in order to perform portable EKGs.

On the 10th floor, there was perfusion. In the lab, patients are injected with a radioactive dye that allows for extensive scans of the heart.

Just down the hall, there was the Echo and portable Echo department, in which sonograms are taken of the heart.

At the end of the hallway, there were treadmills galore. In this room, patients would be attached to heart monitors and asked to do the BRUCE fitness test, which increases the heart rate by increasing the speed of the treadmill every 3 minutes. At the maximum heart rate, patients would be swept off their feet and laid onto a bed, and the echo technician would then perform the echo sonogram to see how the heart operates at elevated levels of stress and exercise.

These were just a few of the departments where I was able to work. There were so many different departments running similar tests, that at times it was hard to separate them. There were different technicians, nurses, nurse’s assistants, and doctors in each department.

This just goes to show just how far medicine has come and how advanced it is. It was reassuring to see that the health care field is a safe field to enter, as far as future job security. However, I had to admit, the levels of training and specialties required to work in each department were all different, and it was scary. Rotating through all of the different departments, I had heard from employees wishing that they had chosen the department down the hall in which to specialize.

I want to be eager and excited to go to work each day. As one of my favorite quotes goes, “If you can find the profession that truly makes you happy, then you will never have to work a day in your life. …

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