Ashley Huels '19

Biology

In her own words:
Over the summer, I had the privilege to participate in an unpaid internship at Salem Township Hospital in Salem, Illinois. Throughout the internship, I worked with one of the hospital’s nurse practitioners in a walk-in clinic. Prior to starting the internship, I was nervous about what to expect. I knew that I needed to complete an internship to graduate this spring from MacMurray with my degree in Biology on the pre-health track. Much like any other student, I was unsure about the experience itself. After completing my internship, I am more confident and excited to take the next step in my educational and professional journey. I highly recommend going into your internship with an open mind and a desire to learn more about your chosen field!

During the internship, I observed a variety of interesting cases. I saw everything from the common cold to treating significant lacerations. It seemed like each day had its own trend of cases. One day, almost all cases were related to a gastrointestinal virus or bacteria, while the next day was completely devoted to skin rashes, such as scabies, shingles, contact dermatitis and more. I was exposed to the language used by health care providers as well as appropriate and effective methods of communicating with patients. My favorite skill I acquired during my internship was the basic technique for suturing. I was able to assist on cases requiring suturing as well as lend a hand in pediatric cases involving the use of staples. The internship allowed me to better understand the complete process of evaluating a patient’s symptoms, performing a physical exam, providing a diagnosis and determining the best course of treatment for each patient. The information I was exposed to is invaluable to my education.

In addition to my internship, I also spent several weeks shadowing an ENT (ear, nose and throat) surgeon in the operating room at Memorial Hospital in Springfield as well as in clinic. The surgeon I shadowed was very subspecialized in rhinology and endoscopic skull base surgery. In other words, almost all of the cases she performs are done using endoscopes working through the nose and sinuses. Her cases mainly consist of endoscopic sinus surgery for patients with chronic sinusitis and removing tumors or cancers. Several of her cases involve tumors that have invaded the brain and thus require removal in combination with the neurosurgeon. I had the privilege of observing a plethora of cases including, a transphenoidal (through the sphenoid sinuses) pituitary tumor resection, a transphenoidal resection of a meningioma on the frontal lobe of the brain, basic and extended sinus surgeries, a tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy (removal of the tonsils and adenoids), a total thyroidectomy (removal of the thyroid), hemiglossectomy (removal of half of the tongue) due to a cancerous tumor, and a tracheotomy (creation of an airway through the trachea). Needless to say, it was an amazing opportunity that provided valuable learning experiences.

I highly recommend visiting the Career Services department and setting up your own internship experience, even if it is not required for your major. These experiences allowed me to grow professionally and educationally. Find something that you are passionate about and pursue it. If you are unsure about what educational or career path to choose, participate in as many internships and job shadowing opportunities as possible. The hands-on experience you are exposed to is something that cannot be parallel through course work, lectures and textbooks. Don’t be afraid or feel that doing an internship is an inconvenience to you. Fully embrace the opportunity and make it your goal to learn as much as possible. I am thrilled with the strides I took throughout my experiences this summer, and I look forward to what comes next.