Seattle Biomedical Internships Begin

October 20, 2015

SEATTLE – Nine highly qualified Gonzaga University students participated in clinical research projects and received mentoring from physicians and other medical professionals this past summer through the launch of the Seattle Summer Biomedical Internship program.

Sponsored by the Swedish Medical Center Foundation through the Mayberg Educational Fund in partnership with Gonzaga, the SSBI provided paid internships at the following facilities: the Lytle Center for Pregnancy and Newborns, the Swedish Maternal and Fetal Clinic, the Seattle Obstetrix Medical Group of Washington, the Gossman Advanced Healthcare Simulation Center, the Swedish Neurological Intensive Care unit, and the Swedish Pituitary Center.

“Each student participated in an independent research program, including studies of medical treatments, evaluations of diagnostic practices and patient education studies,” said Dr. Terry Slee Mayberg, a neuroanesthesiologist, Gonzaga alumna (’79), and a former associate professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine. She is the founder and director of the SSBI program with her husband Dr. Marc Mayberg, a neurosurgeon and co-founder of the Swedish Neuroscience Institute.

The primary focus of the internship is to provide the students with a quality research experience and was supplemented with weekly lectures and ample shadowing opportunities. Projects included assessing the use of high-tech patient simulators used to train medical providers, evaluation of neuroanesthetic techniques and evaluation of obstetric ultrasound to name a few. Some of the shadowing opportunities included observing neurosurgeries, organ transplantation and obstetric procedures. Students shadowed their mentors as they performed diagnostic tests and visited patients.

Theresa Demeter, director of the Gossman Advanced Healthcare Simulation Center, helped develop the internship opportunities, found mentors, and paired them with the undergraduates. Demeter suggested that SSBI include both students aiming for medical careers and those in disciplines not always associated with health care.

“That’s how we got students like Eric Jobes, a computer science major. Health care desperately needs computer science people. Eric knew he wanted to do computer science but imagined himself at a Google or Apple and hadn’t considered computer science at a healthcare facility,” Demeter said.

Jobes is developing an important online registration system, which he’s finishing while at Gonzaga this semester.

“Now, he is considering health care as a career,” Demeter said. “Next year, we hope to open internships to people interested in finance and business policy in a health-care setting.”

Shelby Mills, a biology major and long-distance runner, also took part in the program to advance her career hopes to attend medical school and become an emergency department physician. In June, Mills also became the first Zag to compete at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships.

“She got to learn a lot about medical safety and quality, and had some great opportunities to see some very interesting cases,” Demeter said, adding the program provided all of the Gonzaga students with career-enhancing experiences. The other students involved were: biology major Kendall Riddelle, psychology major Angela Maccarrone, nursing students Grace Pariseau, Brenna Parker, and Simeng “Sam” Wang; human physiology majors Brady Coad and Grace Stocker. Zach Hanson (’14) helped coordinate the program and is now pursuing a medical career.

“All of the students had really meaningful projects to work on and that they significantly contributed to,” said Demeter, who also mentored the students. “I think they really got a lot out of their experiences. They were all very passionate about what they got to do and you could tell they were all very proud of the projects they worked on. Certainly, they brought a lot of value to each of those projects.”

The program, which will continue next summer, would not exist without the Maybergs’ leadership and organization.

“Terry and Marc have a passion for Gonzaga and a passion for medicine. Through their leadership we were able to bring those things together that equally benefitted the students and Swedish. Thanks and kudos to them,” Demeter said. “It took a lot of energy for them.”

In a survey, all students said the internships helped developed their networking and collaboration skills while the majority also indicated the program advanced their skills in problem-solving, interpersonal relations, communication, time-management, decision-making, accountability, and leadership. The mentors were equally enthusiastic in their reviews of the program. They had high praise for the students, their abilities and the work they produced.

Chris Ryman, internship manager for Gonzaga’s Career and Professional Development, said this unique program has brought investment and energetic collaboration between faculty and staff of several departments across the university, all to benefit students.

“This is truly Gonzaga at its best,” Ryman said. “The interns ranked ‘building relationships’ and ‘seeing impact’ at the top of their most important takeaways. That shows how this program is sustaining the core Jesuit value of educating students to become people for others.”

While SSBI benefits students and the medical facilities, the ultimate beneficiaries of the program are the patients, said Terry Mayberg.

“The students are working on very important projects that wouldn’t otherwise get done and which are directly related to patient care,” Terry Mayberg said. “It’s a great experience for students, and the mentors are thrilled to be working with these highly qualified students.”

In December, Gonzaga will present information for students interested in applying to the program for next summer.