Welcome back to our Summer Spotlight series where we explore some of the interesting and unconventional summer opportunities that our pre-health students have participated in. This week are discussing Colin Yost ‘19 and his as an Operating Room Tech at Portsmouth Hospital in his home town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Colin is a chemistry major, RCA and HPA Peer Adviser. He also works with Princeton Tonight, the Chemistry Outreach Program and the College Counseling Project.
Colin developed an early interest in medicine and volunteered at the hospital throughout high school. Colin developed relationships with doctors and staff over the years and was able to shadow a number of physicians. Being a dedicated volunteer paid off when, in his senior year of high school, an opening for an OR tech became available. Colin was offered the position and jumped at the opportunity. He spent most of his senior spring semester training for the position and began working as an OR tech the summer after high school graduation, returning the summer after his first year at Princeton.
As an OR tech, Colin played an essential role in the operating room. He describes his role as “making everyone else’s job easier,” which may include making runs to the storage room for supplies, preparing the OR room for surgery, and generally supporting the nursing and surgical teams with whatever they needed at that moment. Each shift began with the same routine (check room temperature--critical for patients in a vulnerable state, prepare supplies, restock as needed), but beyond that, work constantly changed and flowed with whatever the demands were that day. In more than one instance, he scrubbed in and provided an extra pair of hands to the surgical team while they were operating.
Some the most crucial and exciting work Colin was able to do involved coronary heart bypass surgeries, which sometimes necessitated an extra hand, literally. In those cases, Colin would scrub in and then a surgeon would guide his hand to the patient's heart, which he held in place while the rest of the surgical team completed the procedure. More broadly, though, Colin noted his gratitude for the opportunity to work with such a skilled medical team and see the interactions between doctors, nurses, and other OR staff, gaining a first-hand understanding of the day to day teamwork and routine within a medical setting. The job also allowed him to demonstrate his reliability and professionalism in a setting where his actions had a direct impact on a patient's outcomes.
The experience Colin gained is unique and incredible for a premed student. It’s worth emphasizing that he earned the opportunity to work as an OR tech by spending years in the hospital volunteer program during high school and taking initiative to ask for opportunities where he saw them. While his experience was special, he emphasizes that opportunities are open to pre-health students who look for them and who are willing to take chances. His advice for first- and second-years looking for summer opportunities is to put themselves out there. If you see any potential for an opportunity or experience, you will be amazed at the experiences you’re able to gain. He suggests reaching out with genuine interest and being open to suggestions or other opportunities you are offered in reply.