A Postcard From: Zauraiz Syeda ’19

Name: Zauraiz Syeda
Class Year: 2019
Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Hometown: Croydon, Pa.

Internship Placement: CHOP and Thomas Jefferson Hospital
Job Title: Academic Associate
Location: Philadelphia

Zauraiz Syeda and class

This summer I’m interning at two different hospitals: CHOP in West Philly, and Jefferson Hospital in Center City. At both locations, I’m working as part of clinical research teams in the emergency department. The goal of my internships is to act as a liaison between each research team and the emergency department physicians to screen, recruit, and properly consent patients for a variety of studies going on at each hospital. This includes making sure a patient is eligible for a study, checking with their physician about potential exclusion factors, explaining the study to the patient and their parents/family, and enrolling them in the study if they are interested. In addition to this, I attend weekly seminars that introduce me and the other AA’s to the basics of research design, research ethics, data collection, and good clinical practice. We get the opportunity to learn about other topics as well, such as chest pain and heart failure, wound management and how to suture, how to ultrasound, and how emergency and trauma patients are triaged.

Zauraiz Syeda in ER

I also have a final project where I design hypothetical studies after learning about the strengths and weaknesses of various study designs. At Jefferson, the other interns and I also get a chance to work with the JeffDESIGN team that teaches medical students at Sydney Kimmel Medical College to apply critical thinking to redesign healthcare systems. This program involves interactive workshops facilitated by designers, architects, and medical device makers. I think it’s absolutely essential for pre-meds/med students to learn the skills to solve healthcare challenges, especially with our ever-changing healthcare system, and I’m excited to be able to work with them!

After taking the Sociology of Bioethics class at Bryn Mawr, I became very interested in the history of ethics, informed consent, and how it relates to clinical research in medical settings. Working at both CHOP and Jefferson allows me to compare the process of informed consent between different populations. At CHOP I mostly see children and young adults, whereas at Jefferson I’m interacting with young adults, middle-aged people, and the elderly. An important difference in consenting patients at CHOP is that they are usually unable to provide consent since they are too young. Instead, we ask their parents to provide consent, and we obtain assent from children who are old enough to understand what the study is asking for. Since CHOP is one of the leading hospitals in the area for children, I see a lot of very sick or very injured young kids, which can sometimes be scary. I love interacting with all the children though, and I’ve learned that working at a children’s hospital involves taking care of worried parents just as much as taking care of their kids. My work as an intern also directly relates to what I learned in my Experimental Design and Statistics Class, where I learned the importance of random sampling, good data collection, and how to describe and interpret data in a way that makes it applicable. It’s exciting to see what I learned in my classes being used in the real world, and I want to continue my internship as a Praxis Independent Study in the fall!

In addition to my internship, I’ve been trying to explore what Philly has to offer. I’m living in an apartment with four amazing Penn students, and there are lots of BMC students nearby, too! I’m always meeting new people and learning about new places to go, recipes to try out, and books to read — it’s been both busy and relaxing!