August 01, 2013

SLU AT Student Has a Wide Variety of Experiences in the Windy City

Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush Summer Internship
By Michelle Cybulski (MAT Class of 2014)

This summer I had the opportunity to work for Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.  I was mentored by Dr. Bernie Bach Jr., MD and physician extender, John Bojchuk, MS, ATC/L.

Dr. Bernie Bach, SLU AT student Michelle Cybulski and John Bojchuk ATC/L
Dr. Bach was one of the first orthopedic sports medicine surgeons in Chicago and in 1986 he pioneered the sports medicine program for Midwest Orthopedics at Rush.   Today it is one of the nation’s most well respected programs and is currently nationally ranked in the top 10 hospitals for orthopedics by U.S. News and World Report’s Best Hospitals.  Dr. Bach and his clinical assistant, John Bojchuk, have worked together for over 25 years, with John being one of the first athletic trainers to work as a physician extender.  John has also served as an athletic trainer for the NBA’s Chicago Pre-Draft Camps for nine seasons, as an Athletic Trainer for the Chicago Breeze professional women’s volleyball team, and as the Head Athletic Trainer for the University of Illinois-Chicago Men’s Basketball team.

Rush University Medical Center
Everyday in the clinic was busy and exciting, seeing between 40 and 50 patients a day.  My ability to take thorough patient histories, perform physical examinations, and report my findings to the attending physician improved daily.  I learned how to use the KT-1000 knee ligament arthrometer and performed over a hundred KT measurements on my own.  I assisted in the preparation of injections and aspirations.  I learned how to review MRIs, x-rays, bone scans, and CT scans.  I observed over 90 hours of surgery during which I performed exams under anesthesia, learned how to assist in patient prepping and positioning, and post-op dressing and brace fitting.  John also taught me about the behind-the-scenes work of a physician extender.  Tasks such as returning patient phone calls and emails everyday to answer all kinds of questions, sorting through stacks of medical files for worker’s comp cases, reviewing physical therapy notes and patient prescription renewals, organizing surgical work-up orders to make sure patients had all their lab work and paper work before surgery, reviewing EMDAT dictations, and advocating for patients when their insurance companies were making it difficult to receive the treatment they needed.

Dr. Ryan Cole (sports medicine fellow), John Bojchuk, Michelle Cybulski, Dr. Bach, Dr. Anil Gupta (sports medicine fellow), Dr. Brandon Erickson (resident)
My preceptor, John, also provided me with the opportunity to spend time working in every sub-speciality within the orthopaedics department: sports medicine, knee, and shoulder; hip; elbow, wrist, and hand; spine, neck, and back; foot and ankle; adult and pediatric non-operative sports medicine; and joint replacement and reconstruction of the hip and knee.  I spent a week working in the on-site AthletiCo Physical and Occupational Therapy clinic and participated in Rush’s ACL reconstruction return-to-play testing analyzed with Dartfish software.  I spent time working in the casting room with the orthopedic technicians learning the proper ways to apply casts and splints and how to remove sutures, staples, and casts.  He also arranged for me to have the opportunity to spend time at Industrial Rehab Allies where I experienced work hardening and conditioning for industrial athletes.  I learned about proper lifting techniques and ergonomics and how Functional Capacity Evaluations are performed and analyzed for worker’s compensation patients.

AthletiCo Physical and Occupational Therapy at Midwest Orthopaedics

Industrial Rehab Allies
One of the many benefits of working at Rush, a large teaching hospital, was being surrounded by other students, residents, and fellows from every part of the country, each with a different background and level of expertise.  Everyone was constantly teaching and learning from one another.  Each and every person I met took value in adding to my education.  In this way we would work together to provide the best possible care for every patient.   One of the greatest lessons I learned was to always to be student and always be a teacher.  Dr. Bach and John are both avid educators and they made sure we learned something everyday.  They also led by example when it came to one of the most important lessons I learned, Rule #13: Do the Right Thing.  I was invited to attend weekly presentations by the fellows and attending physicians and also attended their journal club.  Another benefit of working at Rush was the volume of patients we would see.  During my 11 weeks I had access to over 1,500 patient visits under the many subspecialties of orthopedics.  I witnessed every type of pathology I had read about in class and more.  I had the opportunity to see very common sports injuries as well as many extreme and rare cases, one of which I was able to participate in creating a case study report that is in the process of being submitted for publication.

SLU AT student Michelle Cybulski with Herm Schneider ATC, Head Athletic Trainer of the Chicago White Sox
An extra perk of working with the team physicians for the Chicago White Sox was being able to accompany the medical staff at one of the home game series!  I was able to sit in on evaluations of the players and tour their awesome facility at U.S. Cellular Field. 

White Sox AT Room at US Cellular Field
This was everything I could have hoped for and more in a clinical experience.  I was able to form friendships and connections with so many wonderful people, I look forward to running into them again soon in the world of sport medicine.  I’m so grateful for this incredible opportunity to have been a part of the Rush team.

Students in the Saint Louis University Athletic Training Program have a required internship in the summer between their two professional years in the program.  This blog post details a student's reflection on their internship experience.

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