About the Author: Dr. Srishti Ahuja from Nehru Homeopathic Medical College and Hospital talks about her research internship and how she worked tirelessly day and night to achieve her dreams.
Working as a junior resident, attending patients and OPDs, working my shifts, and studying in my spare time left an empty space in my life, and I wanted to fill it in with an internship in biomedical research. Owing to my twelve-hour shifts, over packed OPDs, fatigue, and lack of time, I knew I was biting more than I could chew. However, I knew success lay in a zone outside my comfort, so I decided to email my resume to as many as twenty-five scientists expressing my interest in an internship and stating my time constraints.
To my surprise merged with a pinch of dismay, I received a reply from only one scientist from Ambedkar Institute of Biomedical Research. Adding to it, I ignored the call from her mistaking her for a patient. To my luck, she had emailed me her contact number. I called her after a day’s arduous work and a 2-hour travel to be interviewed. She asked what made me stand out, why I wanted to get into research, why I should be allowed to join a high-end research when I was so low on time, how I would be an asset to the scientists. She inquired about my credentials and achievements and questioned me on various research and clinical topics. I responded to each question in a precise, concise, and intelligent manner. The interview lasted for 45 minutes, and I was confident, persuasive, and convincing throughout. My dedication, backed up with my grind and work ethics, spoke volumes, and I was hired.
Within a week, I arranged the required documents such as application to the head of the institution, my resume citing all my achievements, etc. and the letters of recommendation. I convinced the scientist that I would reach the lab by 2.30 every afternoon, but I didn’t know that I was signing for another challenge. My job became more uphill when I was posted elsewhere by the hospital with a new attending which meant more patients, more work, and more travel.
My work in the lab comprised of core molecular biology procedures like DNA isolation, RNA isolation from blood samples of Cardiac patients. I worked on Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), a technique to amplify the copies of a segment of DNA sequence, RT-PCR procedures which included various assays like nitric acid and BCA. After performing the experiments, I recorded the results, analyzed the data, and reported the observations to my supervisor. The additional responsibilities included getting the control samples (samples of a healthy person), maintaining the quantitative and qualitative data generated from the research, ensuring the storage of the samples, and keeping the lab tidy and functional. I drew blood samples for volunteer patients and worked on them. I got opportunities to meet incredible scientists and a splendid exposure to research work. I explored new horizons of biology and worked on many cool assays.
The work itself wasn’t grueling but working for four to five hours every day on intensive procedures after an exhaustive OPD was an acme of fatigue. However, the fact that I was still actuated about this phase of my life was astounding. I juggled through my shifts, running between the lab and the hospital. I knew that the trouble of balancing the work was just a dime’s worth, and I worked my fingers to the bone. I was getting the best of both worlds as a physician and a scientist. Although I couldn’t afford to make any mistakes, I made some but since my results were good providentially, they were compensated for. Also, I feel I did pretty well experimenting in the lab and handling my patients with a clean bill of health for myself (giggles).
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