Morgan Potter '17
Morgan Potter worked as a research intern during the summer of 2016 at The Children's Hospital in Aurora, Colorado. She worked specifically in the Musculoskeletal Research Center (MRC) and Center for Gait Analysis and Movement (CGMA).
What were the responsibilities of your internship? What did it entail?
The MRC is part of the orthopedics department. I was assigned to the spine team. I worked on a project that essentially looked at infection rates in spinal fusion surgeries before and after the implementation of an intra-operative antibiotic. I was mostly going through patient charts and collecting relevant data. At the end of the internship, the MRC/CGMA hosted a research symposium for the eight summer interns. During the symposium we gave presentations on the research we did over the summer.
Another component of the internship was shadowing, which was paid up to 20 hours. I connected with surgeons, doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners based on an interest sheet we filled out upon accepting the summer position. This was a great opportunity to gain exposure to "a day in the life," like most shadowing opportunities. However, shadowing at one of the Top 10 children's hospitals provided me with the opportunity to see some truly remarkable cases.
The other interns and I attended various lectures where we saw the lab where they do 3D printing of prosthetics. And because Children's works closely with Anschutz Medical Campus, we also learned about stem cell research being conducted at Anschutz.
Lastly, we were a part of a weekly 'Journal Club' where each week one of us would present on an article related to our research topic. The journal clubs provided not only an opportunity to learn more about research done in various fields (sports, general orthopedics, tumor, trauma, etc.) but also required us to critically analyze articles so that we could apply some of these critiques to our own writing in the future.
How did CSB/SJU prepare you for the internship?
I think the exposure to research in many of my required courses as an integrative health science major prepared me for this internship and helped me stand out from many other applicants. Between research methods, health and fitness and exercise physiology, I have conducted many 'mini' research projects with fellow classmates. These projects required me and my classmates to go through the many steps of the research process in a similar manner that an individual in the "real world" would do. These classes also helped me learn how to efficiently work as an individual and as a team — something that translated into my own internship really well.
Having the opportunity to do research outside of the classroom with Dr. Mary Stenson during my sophomore year also made me stand out in the competitive application pool. Having the opportunity to do research alongside a professor is something unique that CSB/SJU is able to offer.
What were some challenges/experiences that you faced? How did you overcome those challenges?
Housing was a challenge because the internship did not provide the out-of-state interns with housing. However, there are numerous routes to go with in order to find affordable housing. Additionally, the fact that this internship was paid helped living out of state for the summer possible.
What was your favorite memory?
My favorite memory was being able to be a participant in one of the studies in the gait lab. Our sports medicine research team was doing pilot testing on their study, which is comparing the diagnostic capabilities of 2D video analysis to 3D gait analysis (as typically performed in the gait lab). Upon hearing about this, I didn't hesitate to sign up. It was fascinating to be able to see the advanced technology within the gait lab being used.
As an outdoor-fanatic, spending a summer in Colorado was a dream come true. I was able to spend most of my weekends exploring/wandering the mountains by hiking, camping, and backpacking.
Advice for students interested in applying for an internship?
Apply! I look back and laugh because I almost didn't send in my application, even though this was my top choice out of all the internships I was applying to. It was a stressful time-crunch having just come back from being abroad in Chile for a semester. I started to think, what's the point? Do I even stand a chance? Luckily, I ignored these thoughts and applied. Clearly, it was worth it as they offered me an interview and the position almost immediately after the interview.
So, don't doubt yourself! The education and opportunities CSB/SJU has to offer makes all of us remarkably competitive candidates for any position.
What are your plans after graduation?
I will either return to Children's Hospital Colorado and work as a research assistant in the MRC/CGMA, or I will go work/volunteer abroad in South America — hopefully with a program involving public health and exercise.