Well, here it is. It’s been almost a full year since I began the GMI program. Looking back on the journey, I can wholeheartedly say that this has been a surreal experience. I’ve met some really inspiring and talented people, traveled to places and experienced cultures I thought I would never have, and of course, I was surrounded by a great group of friends and mentors that have really be constructive influences in my life. This blog is a final hurrah to all those who have helped me in the past year!
Barretos & the Claroscope
This past week, Anna and I were able to take our implementation projects down to Barretos for testing and final implementation. Ryan and I spent the last couple of weeks finalizing the prototype and making it look as high fidelity as we could. Our mindset was to fully hand this project off to Barretos during my trip. This included giving over all 3D CAD files, documentation and, of course, the device. It was pretty fulfilling to see a final prototype built after all the considerations we put into the design of the device. Ryan came up with the name “Claroscope” for the device and after a quick vetting process to make sure that everything translated to Portuguese appropriately, we decided this would be a fitting name (“claro” in Portuguese translates to “clear”). We even made a pretty box for the device to sit in (thanks Anna).
We spent our time testing the interfacing between REDCap and the Claroscope. We first needed to train nurses on how to use the REDCap application and desktop database. Once we completed training, the nurses proceeded to examine patients for suspicious lesions (these patients volunteered to be a part of the testing and were already examined by Dr. Carlos Silveira beforehand). The nurses had an easy time attaching the Claroscope to their phones, which was a significant improvement from our last visit in October. Since the device has to be placed flush against the skin, some areas were more difficult to get good positioning on. There were a few lesions on patients that were located on the ear or chin, which with some angles can be difficult. Overall, the nurses and dermatologists were very happy with the image quality and the device in general (which was a huge sigh of relief for me). We tested this device successfully for 38 patients, who were more than happy to help.
One of my favorite moments from this trip was going to the poorer neighborhoods near Barretos and knocking on doors to ask people if we could take lesion photos of them. This is what some of the nurses do every day to make sure people are being proactive about their check-ups. At the end of our trip, Anna and I had a meeting with Dr. Edmundo Mauad (Director of the hospital) and he was so excited about our project that he even called in some fellow physicians to come and see our device (I had to keep myself from grinning too much). After the demonstration, we literally handed the Claroscope over to Dr. Mauad and took some photos with many of those involved with the project. I’d say the trip went about as well as I could have imagined, and I’m excited to see the potential reach the Claroscope will have in the years to come.
Recognizing what drives GMI
With all the great things we get to do at GMI, it would not be possible if it weren’t for two people, Sheretta and Dr. Richardson. Sheretta was always so helpful in making sure that our groups got what we needed and that any travel and accommodations were taken care of. This allowed us to not have to stress about those things and channel our focus into our projects. She was a direct reason to why we have been able to make the progress we have made on our projects. Thank you, Sheretta, for all that you do!
And of course, there is the man, the myth and the legend, Dr. Eric Richardson. One of the first things that stuck out to me about GMI’s program was Dr. Richardson (and a major reason I joined the program). He is genuinely interested in improving healthcare for global and underserved markets and I knew that from our first conversation. How he balances the things he does is still a mystery to me. In all seriousness, he has been such a great mentor figure to me and has helped me professionally grow into a more knowledgeable and confident person. It will be sad to see him move on from GMI at Rice, but I know that his vision will carry on with him to his next venture, and that’s something I can be happy about.
To the GMIers
To be honest, I did not think that this group would be as close as we became. To see 10 students with diverse backgrounds and experiences come together and rally behind what we believed in was something that cannot be inorganically replicated. This is a special group of people. I’ve learned something from each of them, and I think this would be a good time to list it out!
Abby: Taught me about the perils of Houston driving
Anna: Taught me to always have a question ready for every awkward situation
Callie: Taught me to always be prepared for survival situations
Chandler: Taught me about how to be a more social person
Karlee: Taught me what pepperoni rolls were, life-changing
Ryan: Taught me how to play numerous card and board games (I’m bad at all of them)
Sanjana: Taught me how to not drive thru at a Taco Bell
Siri: Taught me about the latest celebrity news
Tasha: Taught me that Californians aren’t as weird as I thought they’d be
Going to miss these guys, but I can’t wait to see all the great and innovative things that these crazy minds come up with. Truly blessed with some great colleagues and friends! And like that, my time here at Rice is coming to an end, but I expect to read more blogs in the coming years from the Global Medical Innovation program at Rice.