Another week has flown by, it’s crazy to think that we have less than two weeks left here in Costa Rica. This past week was quite busy for me between wrapping up one project, starting another one, learning about career development, setting up meetings with various people to learn about Boston, and trying to squeeze in some travel outside of work. But “Pura Vida” right?
I had a productive week because I turned in my deliverables for my project for review. The deliverables consisted of two technical reports that described the issues with the guidewire coatings, compared several guidewires, and defended my decision to apply the data from one guidewire to several others. This process of applying data from one product to similar products is called leveraging. It is a key tool in the medtech industry because often tests are expensive and time-consuming to conduct, especially clinical trials on human subjects. Thus, since many product changes are minimal (such as the color or length) or similar to other products (such as the material or manufacturing processes), leveraging can be a useful tool to ensure FDA compliance without reiterating costly experiments. However, even without experiments, lots of paperwork has to be filed to leverage a product. The products must be proven similar in all relevant aspects with evidence and engineering logic to be leveraged. That is where my technical reports come in. I was able to leverage five new products from two existing ones. Currently, my reports are under review by my coworkers. Once we have worked out any flaws, the reports will be integrated into the Boston database where they will reside until the end of time. Thus, I will have fulfilled one of my goals for this summer of adding value to Boston.
I also gained a new project this week. I will be working on a catheter and cutter combination. The fundamental idea behind this device is that the catheter is used to position electronic lead wires in the heart. Once these wires are positioned, the catheter is removed. This is tricky because the wires are threaded through the catheter so moving the catheter may reposition the wires. This is where the cutter comes in; the catheter is sliced away while the wire is held in place much like a letter opener. The project itself is similar in concept to my previous leveraging project, but deals with the design change of only one product. So in this case, I will be more or less leveraging the older version of the product to prove that the newer version is safe and effective. This requires a different type of report called a DCAF (Design Change Analysis Form). To complete this comprehensive form, I must review every facet of the device to determine what aspects and product specifications are affected by the change. This may seem simple, but there are so many aspects of the device to consider: its functionality, the risks involved, the testing already completed, FDA guidelines, marketing claims, the packaging, biocompatibility, and more. So I will, with the help of my coworkers, analyze each of these aspects of the product, document what has and has not changed, and support my claims with engineering reasoning. Even though it may seem extensive, I am excited to tackle the task because it will help me understand more deeply how a product balances all of these diverse aspects and also add value to Boston through my work.
As an unexpected opportunity this week, I was also invited to a professional development workshop hosted by YPN (Young Professionals Network) and organized by several of my coworkers. The purpose of the workshop was inspire and give advice to those of us who are just starting our careers. I learned a lot from the eight speakers. My favorite was Boston’s SVP Global Manufacturing and Supply Chain who talked about career development. His advice was, “Be good at what you do. Say yes. Deliver results. And the company will give you more and more hard things to do.” I found this to be good advice, especially when he also expounded on the idea of creating my own dream job in my current situation instead of expecting my dream job to fall into my lap. This is an important concept for me because if I try to find my dream job then I may be searching forever; but if I create my dream job in incremental steps, then I am assured of “finding” it. This also drove home the fact that it requires a significant amount of time and effort to develop my dream job and that I should expect this. By the same token, my dream job will never be perfect, but I can always work to improve it. This makes me optimistic about my future jobs as well because jobs are not these rigid things that I had imagined, rather they are fluid and shapeable, offering flexibility to those willing to mold their jobs. Since I strive for perfection, this perspective shift of jobs from finding buried treasure to accumulating my own treasure over time will help me tremendously in the future. I will now choose a non-ideal job with potential over a momentarily better job without the ability to be adjusted.
One thing that I am learning this summer is that the 7:00-4:00 workday is quite challenging. It is sometimes difficult to stay focused for that long each day and to stay productive. This is where my coworkers are key: they always seem to be bubbling with energy, never fail to offer help and answer my questions, spur me on when I get stuck, and simply care about me as a person. I pray that I can find such a group to work with after I graduate. They have certainly set a high standard for my future work environments. I have also noticed that the type of work plays a role as well in how I handle the working hours. If I am engaged and interested in my work, then the day goes by quickly and I stay focused. But if I let my mind wander, or encounter a stall in my projects then the day drags on. So it is a twofold solution to enjoying and staying focused during the working hours: personable teammates and engaging projects.
As always, some fun facts about Costa Rica:
- Five colones (about one cent) is the smallest coin in circulation
- Everything on Netflix is defaulted to Spanish
- McDonald’s serves gallo pinto (rice and beans) for breakfast with hotcakes
This weekend, in trying to take advantage of our precious spare time, we visited Manuel Antonio National Park. It was an amazing park with a wildlife-filled jungle that reached right up to the white-sand beach. We saw monkeys, sloths, lizards, crocodiles, birds, and a raccoon. I am continually impressed with Costa Rica’s environmental standards as the park was clean and protected by prohibitions of certain items inside the park. Costa Rica is leading the way in protecting the environment and the biodiversity that it holds. I am grateful for this because Costa Rica holds 5% of the world’s beautiful and valuable biodiversity.