Elizabeth Chatburn, 2013
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Genetics Counseling Intern
Summer 2012 - Unpaid
Elizabeth Chatburn, a senior Biology major here at Ursinus College interned this past summer at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). She shadowed a variety of genetic counselors at CHOP and shadowed specifically within the Human Genetics Department. They would walk her through their own daily routines. Preparing patient charts was one of her daily responsibilities. “As boring as that might sound,” she said, “it was actually great experience because you’re basically reading other doctors review notes.” She also sat in on patient appointments, helped fill out forms to order genetic tests, wrote review letters of the patient appointments, filled out letters of medical necessity and attended grand rounds with the entire genetics department.
“Writing was big for me,” she said. “And obviously at Ursinus we’re huge on writing especially in the science department. The writing skills I gained through college definitely helped a lot.” She also found that her experience working with journal databases and articles was another skill she gained from Ursinus that benefitted her greatly during the internship. She was often asked to look up primary research articles that corresponded with a specific patient or were written by a specific researcher. Ursinus gave her the ability to do this quickly and efficiently. “That’s definitely something I can take away from Ursinus.”
Chatburn plans on going to graduate school. Her first choice is Arcadia because they send all of their students to CHOP for rounds and clinical work so she already knows the people and the setting. Some of the Doctors she worked with have great reputations and the people she worked with are writing her recommendations for graduate school.
“For any person going into any field if you don’t shadow or you don’t at least see what they do on a daily basis how can you know that that’s what you want to do?” said Chatburn. She chose genetics kind of randomly even though she found it interesting. However, it wasn’t until she saw their daily lives, which she described as being chaotic but controlled, that she really understood her interest. The internship solidified her goal of wanting to be a genetic counselor. “I knew I wanted to be in the medical field and I like working with people on a daily basis. It just fits,” she said.
“Start asking around. Ask anybody, aunts, uncles, and family friends. If they know anyone in the field you’re going into because people always know each other and most people are really open to having shadowers and interns come in. It’s a matter of getting out there and actually doing it.”