International Engineering Ambassadors
Insight into the life & course of international students.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Summer Placement Experience

By Jannah Shaffie

Last summer, I travelled back to my home country, Malaysia.  During my 3 months summer break, I worked for the Faber Company for one and a half months. The company generally maintained facilities, usually engineering-related, required by local governmental hospitals. There were few main engineering departments, like mechanical, electrical, civil and one that I’m working in, the biomedical department. I worked in one of the Faber regional offices in Ipoh (the capital city of the Perak district) which maintained facilities in the biggest hospital in the area called Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital.

               Generally, there were few things I did during my internship. One the main things was to learn about biomedical machines, with hand on experience. On my first day as an intern, I was given a timetable with the sub-departmental visit schedule. There were many sub departments, each having its own members and machine specialists. Amongst the units were, hemodialysis, imaging, laboratory, operational theater (OT), ICU, and ‘general’ (represent all areas other than mentioned former) which cover machines from various departments like daily clinic e.g. eye clinic, neonatal wards, casualty, maternity hall, and many more. I also learned about a testing and commissioning (TnC) process which was generally a simulation of purchased product conducted by the vendor and the contract-signing between the vendor and the hospital officers. On top of that, I was taught how to do the annual machine checkup called PPM which stood for Plan Preventive Measurement. PPM generally included the Electric Safety Test (EST), calibration (applicable on some machines), physical cleaning, and other tasks. In order to ensure longer lifespans of machines, PPM was considered vital, apart from ensuring the machines were safe to be used onto patients. Besides, I also learned how to do asset filing which was important to ensure governmental assets data was well documented and easily retrieved.

Light Slit

During the early phase of my internship, I did feel a bit nervous and anxious. Fortunately, the staff there were very nice, pleasant and generous in sharing their expertise and knowledge. My first sub departmental visit was to the hemodialysis (HD) center. For three days, I would visit the HD outpatient’s center at the hospital learning on HD machines. The HD specialist also taught me the whole support system to the HD center including the RO water system which supply the fundamental RO water to the HD machines all over the ward. Apart from that, he also showed me an alternative to HD as kidney failure therapy, the peritoneal dialysis machine and set up. After that, I visited the imaging department where I was introduced to the X-ray machines, fluoroscopy, CT scan, MRI and mammogram. The specialist also explained on the safety aspects of the machines operation and on the safety design of the room itself (e.g. presence of ferrous detector at the entrance of MRI room).

Soon after that, I followed another departmental visit which was the ‘general’. During this time I had the chance to see and learn about the light slit machine (a normal eye checking device in every eye clinic) and OCT which stands for Optical Coherence Tomography, at the eye clinic. Besides, I also had the chance to visit the casualty or emergency section, where all emergency cases were first diagnosed and treated upon arrival at the hospital before they were sent to wards and the ICU. I was later brought to the neonatal ward to check on the incubators on a floor full of babies, mature and premature. I was also introduced to the camera devices used during operations i.e. laparoscope and telescope. The laparoscope, a long wire-like cable, was attached to the monitor, light machine (to produce light) and camera processor. Each cable required proper use and care since the fibre glass cable was susceptible to break and the camera was very sensitive to scratches. Getting the experience of watching surgery in the maternity wing was definitely something I will not forget.
MRI Room

My next departmental visit was to the operational theatre (OT). The procedure of getting into the OT was rather strict with only permissible individuals i.e. doctors and working nurses, allowed in. That’s why getting the opportunity to visit OT was something that I really appreciated. The OT was generally the place where you’d get to see many complex biomedical machines apart from the ICU. In there, I was introduced to the ventilator, operational table, LED surgical light, electrosurgical unit (ESU) used for slicing open tissue, large microscope to assist miniature operations, laparoscope and many more! Usually, machines common to other departments were also readily available in the OT i.e. hemodialysis, ultrasound and mobile x ray machines. Later, I was escorted to the ICU department. In there, lots of biomedical machines were attached to only one patient proving how crucial the machines are to help them stay alive. There were a great number of ventilator machines in ICU due to its vitality for the patients in the departments.

The practical experience will definitely serve as a stepping stone for my career with all the skills and values I learned there. It was such a great feeling to work on the machines that I had learned about in class, plus getting to know many others that I had never encountered. Also, there were definitely many fond memories I made, especially with my fellow officemates. The days when we had breakfast together, stressed about to fix machines and laugh at each other’s jokes were some of the unforgettable memories I will cherish for life.

In a nutshell, doing an internship is definitely something that I will not regret and I highly encourage all the undergrads out there to grab the chance to do internship in any company you like, for the priceless experience that will help you grow gain a lot of new personnel skills. All the best!

Last day at the biomedical engineering department with officemates. 

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