Saturday, March 10, 2012

Pearls & Scrubs: Mass General Hospital (MGH) Off-cycle Internship

Last fall I decided to interview for off-cycle internships. This means that instead of taking classes during the spring semester I’m working for a partner company and will be back on campus in the fall.  I really liked the description of the MGH internship and knew that I would have a better chance of staying in Boston if I interviewed for off-cycle. I think doing an off-cycle in-town internship is the best of all worlds as the biggest downside to doing an off-cycle is not being with your LGO classmates for a year. I’ve found since MGH is only a 2-minute T ride from school I’ve been able to stay involved in clubs coming back for lunch meetings and since I don’t have homework to do at night, I have even more time to participate in activities. It has been a fantastic first month!

The first day at MGH I came dressed up in business casual, heels, and pearls but it turned out I was to shadow the Operating Room (OR) Staff Administrator. This meant I got to wear scrubs! So for the day, I was rocking pearls and scrubs (thankfully a friend had sneakers for me). The Staff Admin is essentially the manager of the OR for that particular day. They are typically experienced anesthesiologists that are very good at managing lots of moving parts and influencing others. Since that first day I’ve spent quite a few days shadowing people in the OR. It is very exciting place to be. I’ve seen liver transplants, a spine fusion, a guy’s jaw being reconstructed, and more! I love how chill it is in the OR- people joking, talking, and laughing. How does someone’s body flayed open and their life in your hands become as comfortable as me in Excel? Hard to wrap my head around! I loved the advice one of the Staff Admin’s gave me on the first day I went into the ORs. He said if you feel faint- just sit down. No one will remember the girl that sat down. Everyone will remember the girl that fainted (and took out equipment, tubes, etc.).

MGH is a cool project for me in particular as I thought originally about going into medicine. At Georgia Tech I was Biomedical Engineering /Pre-med for the first two years and ended up switching to Industrial Engineering. It turns out Industrial Engineering was a perfect fit for my brain, personality, and skill set. Now at MGH I get to have an impact on the hospital and people’s lives but in a way that best utilizes what I’m good at- math!

My project is looking to improve the way surgeons order their cases within their blocks (their allocated OR time). I will be building a mathematical model to evaluate different strategies and their impact on the rest of the system. I’m really excited to see what answers come out of the project. The hardest part I fear won’t be the coding of a simulation or optimization program, but actually convincing the surgeons to use whatever we come up with. Wish me luck!


  1. Your project sounds interesting. What tool/software are you going to use for your mathematical model? Matlab?

    Do you learn about simulation/optimization tools in your lgo classes?

    Thank you,

    Prospective Student

    1. Hi ChemE,

      If it is small enough I hope to keep it in excel and use a pumped up version of solver. If it turns out not to solve that way I'll probably have to code something for CPLEX.

      In LGO you take a class in optmization over the first summer. I also had the class in undergrad and have done some project work with it.

      Are you interested in LGO and/or optimization?


    2. Thanks for your reply Ashleigh!

      I did some modeling work before at school. It had to be in Matlab because of the complexity of the partial differential equations I was trying to solve.

      Yes, I am interested in LGO and Optimization. I am hoping to apply this Fall 2012.