For the last few years, Pamela Blaise '15, who is majoring in biology with a concentration in health sciences, has had an interest in public health. Last year, she heard about an internship slot that opened at Ariadne Labs after another Emmanuel student left - Blaise jumped at the opportunity, knowing the company was a place where she could watch research programs be effectively adapted and successfully implemented.
"I get to see how they do the research, what it's doing and how they're changing things. The basis of Ariadne Labs is to come up with simple ways to improve quality control," Blaise said. "It has helped me realize that I want to go on and do public health, but that I also want to do something in the healthcare field."
Ariadne Labs seeks to transform how care is delivered worldwide; they continually evaluate and monitor outcomes to ensure their programs improve health systems, provide better patient care and save lives. Ariadne Labs is a joint center for health systems innovation between Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard School of Public Health.
At Ariadne Labs, Blaise is a student administrative assistant. She works on Dr. Atul Gawande's team. Dr. Gawande is the executive director of Ariadne Labs, a general and endocrine surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital, a professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health and in the Department of Surgery at Harvard Medical School, a writer for The New Yorker, an author of three New York Times bestsellers and a public health researcher.
Day-to-day, Blaise sorts through Dr. Gawande's mail, as he often receives many requests for speaking engagements. She puts all requests into a spreadsheet for him to decide what invitations he'd like to pursue. The Emmanuel senior works with his executive assistant and helps create itineraries and expense reports for the doctor. She also assists other surgery teams with small projects on the topics of serious illness care and infant and childbirth mortality.
"It's really a very nice environment and I know I can learn a lot," she said.
Weekly and monthly, Blaise gets the chance to sit in on meetings where Dr. Gawande will speak to the happenings within Ariadne Labs or his new writing projects.
"The things I've learned from Dr. Gawande are from the books he's written. He writes in the perspective of a doctor, but focuses on the patient and their story, his interactions and projects with the different teams in the office and even through his fan mail," she said, adding that he is known for starting conversations on topics in medicine that are not often spoken about.
Although Blaise has enjoyed her time being in a research-based facility, she has decided it's not the direction she wants to take for a career path. She has applied to several graduate nurse practitioner programs. In her future, she sees herself helping patients firsthand and watching her work and effort help patients get better.
"I like the idea that in public health you're not just treating one person but that you're treating everybody in the community - that's what I like I think nursing does," Blaise said.
Although she isn't surrounded by nurses when she's at the research center, Blaise has been getting experience working beside nurses for the last year and a half as a volunteer at Boston Children's Hospital. She is a resource for the nurses, interacting with the children when they are unable to do so. Her time at the hospital has only confirmed her desire to be a pediatric nurse.
With these experiences, Blaise is very busy off campus, but she is also actively involved on campus. She is a peer tutor in Spanish at the Academic Resource Center, member of the 1804 Society, a biology lab teaching assistant and the public relations offer of Association of Countries, Cultures, Events, Nations and Traditions (A.C.C.E.N.T.).
From her internship experience, Blaise has been able to understand her coursework better, as well as decide what she wants to do after her time at Emmanuel.
"It's really helping me figure out what's going on in the world and how are people trying to figuring out these things," Blaise said of her time at Ariadne Labs. "I don't think any student should ever say, 'No,' to an internship. Even if someone doesn't like their internship, it helps them build skills that will help them later on in a job."