My first week working at Boston Scientific was awesome! My coworkers are extremely friendly and willing to help me with anything. My boss, JC, is very organized and willing to work with me on my goals for this summer; he has assigned me a cool project that I am excited to start this week. This past week consisted mostly of orientation and training, but we were able to attend a cardiology demonstration that even included inserting a stent! Karlee, Chandler, and I are all working at the same site and I think all three of us would describe this past week as full of new experiences, challenges, help from those around us, and optimism for the next five weeks.
Disclaimer: much of what I will be working on is confidential, so please forgive me if I am a bit vague at points, but I do not want to hurt Boston Scientific in any way. I will also avoid using the names of my coworkers and our products as much as possible. Thus, I will be focusing mainly on what I am learning through this incredible opportunity.
What impacted me the most this week was the work environment at Boston Scientific (Boston, for short). I am working in R&D Cardiology with an amazing team. They received me with open arms this week, inviting me to lunch, showing me the ropes, helping me with my Spanish, and answering my endless questions. They even invited me out for dinner one night. I am greatly enjoying speaking Spanish to them as they are patient with me and are teaching me a lot; one of my goals for this summer is to improve my Spanish skills. Thankfully, when it is imperative that I understand, they speak in English so that I do not miss out on important details. The overall work environment is relaxed, with casual dress and flexible work schedules. This has helped us to avoid the peak rush hours in our commute to work; as advised by our bosses. There have been several instances this week where I was amazed by people who went above and beyond to help me. For example, one of my coworkers walked all over the building to help me to get access to the gym and even saved me when I got lost, all just ten minutes after we met each other for the first time. Another example is when I asked someone how to present in a conference room and she said that I needed a laptop. She then proceeded to help me ask other coworkers if I could borrow a laptop. Then, when we found someone, he not only let us borrow his laptop but also listened to and critiqued our presentations. I am very thankful for the environment in which I work, and am looking forward to getting to know my coworkers better.
This week, JC helped me to get settled in and briefed me on my project. I will be working with cardiac guidewires to ensure compliance of several of our products to the new FDA standards. I will be focusing mainly on reviewing previous testing procedures and tweaking them to fit the older products. I am excited to learn more about these guidewires and to add value to Boston by my work.
In preparation for my project, I have been completing many online trainings. There are quite a variety of them, but several of them I found particularly helpful. The ethics training was fascinating for me as it gave examples of appropriate actions in tricky situations. I was impressed by Boston’s code of conduct that holds integrity above all else. This training taught me that there are many grey areas in workplace ethics; it is vital to have a plan for these areas beforehand so that the situation will not catch me off guard. Another helpful training for me concerned how to enter and exit a clean room. Clean rooms are environmentally controlled rooms where many medical devices are manufactured. Every worker must wear a hairnet, gloves, an apron, and shoe coverings. Thus, there is a lengthy process for entering and exiting to protect the room’s integrity. Another training that was very enlightening to me was the one about confidentiality. Basically, any information that is not publicly available may not be shared by a Boston employee to anyone. Boston has numerous documents, procedures, and datasheets that are marked “for internal use only.” As I mentioned above, this principle will now guide my blogs.
The best part of my week was the cardiology demonstration on Thursday. A Boston saleswoman from cardiology came to our office and taught us the basics of how the heart and catheters function. As a mechanical engineer, this was extremely helpful to me. I learned about the blood flow paths in the heart and the effects of blocking those vessels. From there, she led us in a hands-on activity where we simulated inserting a catheter. Then, she brought in a glass model of the blood vessels in the heart and we got to insert a balloon and a stent into a glass coronal artery! So why was this such a big deal? First, catheters allow operations in the heart without open heart surgery; the wires are inserted via an arm or leg artery and threaded up to the heart. So it is an amazing procedure that saves weeks or months of recovery time. Second, stents prevent heart attacks by reopening the vessels that carry oxygen to the heart muscle itself. These are extremely costly, so it was a golden opportunity that we got to use one. That day, I learned a lot about cardiology and the products that I will be working on all while bonding with coworkers over mistakes and jokes.
Fun facts about Costa Rica:
- Sodas are small restaurants, not cokes
- Motorcycle drivers are very daring and must wear helmets by law
- Roads are often paved over instead of being scraped off for resurfacing, so in some cases the road itself is two feet higher than the adjacent sidewalk
Although it felt like it at times, this week was not all work. We were able to go see fireworks, hosted by the U.S. embassy, on the 4th of July. It was a blast to sing patriotic songs and watch a crane almost explode. Saturday, we hiked to three different waterfalls in a region north of San Jose called Bajos del Toro. The scenery was amazing! One of the waterfalls was brilliant blue, but my favorite was the 300-foot tall white one that sat in an ancient volcanic crater. We had a fantastic day; it was a welcome break to a full week of work.