McKenna Geiger ’19
Research Intern, UK Markey Cancer Center, Lexington, Kentucky
Hey everybody, my name is McKenna Geiger. I am a current junior majoring in Biology and minoring in Chemistry. I am also on the Pre-Health track. This summer, I spent 7 weeks in Lexington, Kentucky as a research intern for the UK Markey Cancer Center’s Ovarian Cancer Screening Program.
Before I dive into what I did as an intern, I want to talk about how amazing this program is and how honored I am to have seen their contributions first-hand. The Ovarian Cancer Screening Program at the University of Kentucky offers free ovarian cancer screening to women who are over the age of 50 (post-menopausal) or over the age of 25 with a documented history of ovarian cancer. The main purpose (and hope) of these screenings is to first and foremost notify a patient that they do not have ovarian cancer and then with the patients who do show signs, detect it early enough. Early detection of ovarian cancer is vital to survival, so providing women with the ability to obtain these screens at no cost is ultimately life saving.
I began my internship observing the sonographers who work for the program. I learned all about how ultrasounds work and what the sonographers look for in their patients. After, I learned how to locate and outline masses on the ultrasounds of patients who did show signs of ovarian cancer. We used the measurements to determine whether or not the masses were malignant. That experience was super neat and a skill I know for a fact I will use post-Denison! After this, myself along with another intern from DePauw University were tasked with writing a research paper comparing the affordability of health insurance in Kentucky for fiscal years 2014—2017. Our focus was on the changes in premium and out-of-pocket costs under the Affordable Care Act for numerous family illustrations in both metropolitan and rural cities of Kentucky. Before this internship, I was very unfamiliar with health insurance and all of the legislation involved. Now, I’m an expert and helping First Federal Savings and Loan in Newark with their 2018 health insurance renewals!
Another great experience I had during this internship was watching the Gynecology-Oncology surgeons perform. The surgeries were robot-assisted and ranged from unilateral or bilateral salpingo-oophorectomies (removal of one or two of the ovaries and fallopian tubes) to hysterectomies (removal of all parts of the uterus). Watching these surgeries was by far my favorite part of this internship. I have never seen a surgery before this and I am so glad I did because not only was it the coolest experience ever, but it also solidified my interest in pursuing a career in medicine. Now, will I become a surgeon? Who knows! But what I do know is that this internship helped me decide (with confidence) the field I want to go into post-Denison.
I will forever be thankful for the team at the Knowlton Center for helping me through the application process, my supervisor Dr. Ed Pavlik for providing this experience, and everyone else I met and worked with along the way!