It’s a weird feeling being back at school. On one hand, it’s been a readjustment to having work to do after class is over in the evenings. One of the best parts of being in the working world is getting to leave your work at the office when you go home, so I’ve had to get used to staying in the studying mentality even after I leave campus. At the same time, being on a college campus feels so familiar, like the past two years didn’t even exist and that I just left undergrad in the spring.However, I have learned a few things since I’ve been back – particularly: the fact that your backpack always seems to get heavier despite how much you takeout of it, the lack of need for a calculator in the real world that suddenly becomes relevant again when you have homework assignments, and the delicate balancing act of buying groceries but capitalizing on the free food that always seems to be available at campus events.
Since leaving CDI in the middle of August, I got to spend a week and a half with my family on vacation, visiting some family friends outside of Austin, and at home in Dallas. Our trip was a wonderful time to relax and catch up with each other before starting the school year. We started our semester with a few days of orientation, and it was great being reunited with the rest of the cohort. I was jealous all summer seeing pictures of their travels and adventures in Costa Rica, so I’m excited to be back in Houston with all of them.
Our classes started out in a sprint, deciding our project teams within the first days of school and figuring out our clinical needs for our global projects. I will be working with Erik, Eddie and Rocky on developing a low-cost laparoscopic surgical trainer for Costa Rican and possibly Brazilian hospitals. After getting the chance to watch very advanced robotic surgical procedures with Dr. Koh at Texas Children’s Hospital, I’m eager for us to find a way to effectively train surgeons on this complicated technique in a low-cost, minimal resource setting.We are planning visits to different simulation centers around Texas Medical Center in order to get a sense for the standard that exists in advanced training centers before narrowing down exactly what the Costa Rican stakeholders need to see in the device.
I’m eager to continue exploring Houston throughout the fall and taking advantage of what Rice has to offer!
For my local project, I’m also working with Rocky as well as one of my coworkers from my summer internship to solve unmet clinical needs in the electrophysiology space. Our team is partnered with Dr. Razavi, an EP at Texas Heart Institute, who Aedan and I had the chance to shadow over the summer. While we see several areas for improvement,a lot of the devices currently used are platform-based technologies created by very large medical device companies, which would be a difficult market to enter. Our team is going to have to be creative in the needs that we target in order to find a solution that has market potential and can address a realistic need in the clinical area. So far at THI, I’ve shadowed premature ventricular contraction and supraventricular tachycardia ablation cases. The main difference between these interventions and those for atrial fibrillation is that the patients are awake for these procedures and only under moderate sedation. These two have been much more complex in the analysis of the electrical signals as they are not as anatomically-based as Afib pulmonary vein isolations typically are. I’ve really appreciated Dr. Razavi’s excitement and engagement with us when he’s discussing the cases with his fellows, and it’s been great having Rocky, who is in his third year of cardiac surgery residency, explain the fundamentals of the procedures and the devices being used.
Being back in school has been both a lot of fun and a lot of work so far, and I’m excited to see how our projects progress with needs finding and scoping. I’ve been consistently reminded how much I love being back in Texas, in a place that feels so familiar and closer to the friends and family that I care about. I’m eager to continue exploring Houston throughout the fall and taking advantage of what Rice has to offer!