The smallest, most fragile babies are found in the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of any hospital.
The NICU at Mount Sinai Hospital is where Bayview Glen (BVG) student Rojin Ahmadi chose as her co-op education experience during the month of July.
Rojin shares what she learned during her month-long experiential placement, in her own words.
What made you want to take the Cooperative Education course?
The things that primarily pulled me towards participating in this Co-operative Education programme are the amazing work and learning opportunities I would be able to gain, working in an industry I am passionate about. By observing and interacting with numerous medical practitioners and hospital staff at my Mount Sinai Hospital co-op placement, I had the opportunity to deepen my understanding of the various jobs within a hospital all while expanding my knowledge on the subjects of biology and medicine.
What drew you to the specific industry in the placement you chose?
At Mount Sinai Hospital, I had the opportunity of working in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). I was drawn to this specific department because I wanted my work in the hospital to provide as much support to families. Most of my duties entailed conducting parent programs such as VCreate, a messaging service that allows pictures and updates of a baby in the NICU to be sent to parents, Journey Beads, a milestone bead program that supports a baby’s journey in the NICU, and ERounds, a program that connects families through Zoom to observe their baby’s rounds. I was also drawn towards this unit because I wanted to learn more about the field of pediatrics and neonatology since they are work fields I have always considered pursuing in the future.
How would you describe the application preparation process, prior to your interview?
When writing my co-op application along with my supplementary Mount Sinai application, I found this process to be long yet very beneficial at the end. There were many questions and forms that had to be completed yet by thoughtfully answering all the questions these applications provided, I was able to spend time truly thinking about my personal future goals and acknowledge that – I am actually going to be an adult soon.
What has surprised you most about your placement?
The thing that surprised me most about my placement in the NICU is that there is a multitude of professions in this department, and each one of these jobs is a fundamental aspect of the NICU. Of course, there are nurses and neonatology doctors whose primary jobs are to monitor the babies’ overall health, but there are also nutritionists who evaluate the babies’ nutritional needs, occupational therapists who help connect the babies to their environment and families, ultrasound technicians who perform ultrasound exams and checkups, and much more. By working all around the NICU, I have also opened my eyes to how non-medical jobs hold this department together where ward clerks are transferring important medical records to and from the department, social workers are emotionally supporting families in the NICU, and custodians are making sure the whole unit is safe and sanitary for everyone.
Could you provide 2 or 3 examples of things you have learned that have impacted you?
As I see all the doctors, nurses, and staff constantly collaborating with one another, I learned through my placement in the NICU that a large part of many medical jobs within these types of collaborative departments involves working alongside different specialties. As I completed ERounds, I was able to witness deep collaboration and teamwork take place between nurses, specialized doctors, nutritionists, occupational therapists, and more, which gave me a strong sense of elation, seeing how these physicians debate and work together to create solutions that help these babies grow and progress. Even though I did not completely understand all the medical terminology they use, it is still very exciting seeing how the different physicians use their expertise to jump in the conversation with their comments about the patient’s case and with their suggestions for further actions needed to help that baby thrive. I was deeply impacted by these instances of strong teamwork because it made realize that in the future, I want to not only follow a medical path, but I also want to work alongside others in a team that strives to accomplish the key goal of keeping the community healthy.
From working in the NICU, I discovered things about myself. In the beginning of my placement, I was very reluctant to ask medical practitioners if I could observe them doing their jobs, and to ask them general questions on how certain things work. As days passed, I slowly gained the confidence to personally ask them numerous questions and they all responded very positively with numerous, thorough answers. It all started when I passed by an abdominal ultrasound being performed in a patient room; I kept pacing back and forth in that hallway, trying to pull myself together to ask the technician and the nurse if I could observe. At the end I did, and I was able to see scans of the baby’s abdomen and learn more about the ultrasound technology. Ever since that one fascinating moment, I had the confidence to go up to more and more healthcare workers and gain more wonderful learning experiences. Working in the NICU taught me to always take initiative for myself to communicate my questions to others, and to also always stay curious.
Has this experience influenced your outlook (career, future)? If so, in what ways?
This experience has definitely had a great influence on my career decision. Before participating in this program, I have always known I wanted to pursue a career in healthcare, but I was not completely sure in what setting (hospital, private clinic, research lab, care facilities, ect…); however, after working in the hospital for a whole month in the NICU, I formed an idea. I could see how the medical practitioners continuously encountered various challenges regarding a baby’s health, and worked hard together to create solutions that could boost their health. They are grand problem solvers who never stop when they encounter an issue. I eventually found out that I want to be surrounded by and participate in that type of environment. This placement also solidified my decision of pursuing a career path in medicine and biology because as I listened in during rounds, shadowed nurses, and observed ultrasound technicians, I was very invested in all their discussions of the baby’s medical condition and health status, and wanted to know more.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Throughout my NICU placement at Mount Sinai Hospital, I have gained wonderful experiences that range from seeing ultrasounds being performed on babies to having memorable conversations with the wonderful ward clerks, staff, and volunteers. As I complete my duties around the NICU, I have been able to make many observations of and interactions with medical practitioners and staff which deepened my understanding of the hospital workforce and medical science. As I see all the doctors, nurses, and staff constantly collaborate with each other, I realized through my placement in the NICU that pursuing a medical career involves working in a big, devoted team to achieve one common objective: making sure that the community is healthy.
This Cooperative Education Programme has been an amazing experience as it gave me the opportunities to deepen my understanding of a workforce that I am passionate about and my own goals and capabilities.
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