Biochemistry and molecular biology major and Spanish minor Natalie Hagan ’20 (Versailles, Kentucky) is getting a head start in her future medical career this summer as an intern in the microbiology department at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Throughout the internship, Hagan has been screening environmental samples for Campylobacter-specific bacteriophage, in order to treat the world’s leading cause of gastroenteritis.
“I was hoping to see what graduate school was like and to be able to work on new projects that directly impact people,” she said.
Hagan credits her major courses in helping her prepare for this experience, as well as Dr. Marie Nydam’s bacteriophage CentreTerm course and the encouragement she’s received from her professors.
“I am grateful to be able to spend this summer focusing on what kind of research interests me, as well as which graduate schools or careers I hope to pursue after Centre,” she said.
Hagan explained that the techniques she’s learned at the University of Tennessee will help her in upcoming classes to better prepare for medical school.
“This internship has improved my microbiological lab skills, which will help greatly in upcoming lab courses one of my goals for the summer,” she said.
In May, prior to the start of her internship, Hagan had the opportunity to present at a medical conference in Valencia, Spain.
“I worked with a team of doctors from the Department of Surgery at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine to conduct a retrospective study,” she said. “We submitted our abstract to the European Society for Trauma and Emergency Surgery Congress and were accepted to present.”
The presentation was about the liberal use of computed tomography (CT) scanning in the emergency department on geriatric patients.
“We analyzed over 1,500 patient charts from a three-year period to determine the effectiveness of CT scanning as a precautionary screening tool in the University of Kentucky Emergency Department, as well as the prevalence of surgical intervention in our specific cohort,” she explained.
Hagan said presenting in Spain gave her the opportunity to talk to doctors, residents and research from around the world about different protocols they use and how they best handle situations in the hospital.
The team will still work together throughout the year and are currently revising their manuscript to submit to various medical journals for publication.
“I was able to learn a lot about surgical interventions and the importance of finding alternative ways to decrease medical costs,” she concluded. “This experience solidified my future career goals in medicine and helped me in understanding the difficulties and restrictions in managing patient care.”
by Kerry Steinhofer
August 2, 2018