Week 6: The Internship Begins

Preparation for Internship

Our first phase in Costa Rica is officially over. I think it is a generally good practice to reflect on previous experiences and see how I can apply them going forward. We as a group have seen and experienced so much in these last 5 weeks, now it is time to take that knowledge and transition it into our internship roles at Boston Scientific (Coyol/Heredia). Some aspects I would like to focus on include:

  • Understanding group dynamics and how to facilitate a high-performing team.
  • Becoming familiar with technical terms in the industry
  • Proactively thinking about design and how to optimize it for the manufacturing, regulatory and marketing departments
  • Defining Internship goals (What I can offer Boston Scientific and What Boston Scientific can offer me)

Before the cohort left for Costa Rica, Dr. Richardson had asked each of us what we envisioned would be the best fit for us at Boston Scientific. With departments such as R&D, Manufacturing and Quality, it was not an easy task in deliberating which would suit me most.  Although the thought of being on the front end of innovation in R&D was appealing, ultimately, I thought it would be better for me to understand the fundamental workings in the manufacturing process of product implementation. The concept of DFM (Design for Manufacturing) is popular terminology used in today’s MedTech industry, and I truly believe that in order to optimize, the gap between R&D and Manufacturing needs to be bridged.

Introduction to the Company and Team

Boston Scientific welcomed the cohort on Monday and went over policies, logistics, product-lines and their vision. The Coyol site focused on manufacturing products such as drainage catheters and ureteral stents. We soon received our projects and met our supervisors and coworkers. The project I am going to focus on for the next 4 weeks is ureteral stents. Essentially a ureteral stent is a tube inserted into the ureter to keep it open to allow urine flow from the kidney. Kidney stones or cancerous tumors can often restrict the walls of the ureter, making it hard for patients to urinate. Luckily, Ryan (who is also working with the manufacturing team) and I were able to attend a meeting with the entire production team (over 40 people). It was definitely an experience, lots of engineering terms were being discussed (in Spanish to make it more interesting) and of course, there was no lack of graphs and numbers (because that’s what engineers do). Although there was a significant amount of processing that needed to be done, the exposure to what a well-functioning professional team comprised of was a great experience.

Polaris Ureteral Stent

The Intern

We all have heard of the stereotypes of what an intern does and how he is treated in the workplace. Whether it be from grunt work (such as endless paperwork) or making coffee runs for the team, the intern’s outlook can feel like climbing a steep ladder. However, I can say nothing but good things about Boston’s culture and the people who work here. I felt very welcomed by both the supervisors and production team members. They really appreciated me working with them, and emphasized that I would be “fresh-eyes” in helping solve problems. Of course, there is always necessary training and paperwork that needs to be filled out, but I actually learned a great deal of information from them, things such as:

  • How to properly enter a clean room (CER training)
  • Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Verification & Validation
  • Manufacturing terms
  • Situational Ethics

The Intern Life

The production team offered us to take a tour of some of their device production-lines. Products such as NVI, Expel, Polaris, Percuflex, and Filter Wire were among the products that Ryan and I were able to observe the manufacturing processes for. I gained a newfound respect for the jobs that manufacturing engineers have to do. The meticulous nature of how thorough they have to be when assessing sterility, tolerances, and the various tests that need to be performed before the product ships out, really was eye-opening.

Defining SMART Goals

Being that we just started our internship this week, we have a very limited timespan to make an impact. Dr. Van Kleeck instructed us before we left for Costa Rica, that we should prepare an outline dedicated to achieving SMART goals. SMART is an acronym for:

S- Smart

M- Measurable

A- Action-Oriented

R- Realistic

T- Time-Limited

By implementing this mindset in our brief stay at Boston Scientific, we can scope out objectives that have adequate timing, expectations and resources. While I am primarily here to learn about manufacturing in a holistic spectrum, I do want to provide a meaningful impact that can be helpful to Boston Scientific in the short-term and perhaps even in the long-term. While the team and I have mapped a couple objectives regarding the ureteral stent project, in the coming days we will better define how to capitalize on the opportunity.

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