Biochemistry: From Waynesburg to the Operating Room
During the summer of 2013, Trenton Bromenshenkel, a sophomore Biochemistry major at Waynesburg University, lived the life of a practicing physician. As part of the prestigious UC Davis Pre-Medical Surgical Internship, Mentorship and Research Program, Bromenschenkel worked next to experts in the surgical field approximately 20 hours a week from May 31 to August 24, gaining crucial hands-on experience.
As an intern, Bromenschenkel was responsible for attending conferences, covering rounds, seeing patients in the intensive care unit and working in pre-operative, post-operative and operating rooms. He also studied extensively outside of the hospital, reading medical books, researching and writing papers.
“My favorite experiences were in the OR,” said Bromenschenkel. “I had the opportunity to see some amazing operations ranging from kidney transplants to spinal surgery to laparoscopic cholecystectomies. I even saw an operation with the da Vinci machine, a minimally-invasive robot operated by a surgeon.”
The UC Davis Pre-Medical Surgical Internship, Mentorship and Research Program exposes its interns to the field of surgery in a professional medical environment. Hosted by the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, Calif., medical students are given the opportunity to work hands-on within a 650-bed, Level 1 Trauma Center under the guidance of practicing surgical physicians.
“This was the only internship I was interested in for the summer,” said Bromenschenkel. “I realize I should have applied elsewhere, but the program offered a unique exposure to medicine and the life of a physician.”
The El Dorado, Calif., native, who chose Waynesburg for its strong science department, small classroom sizes and many scholarship opportunities, learned of the UC Davis internship program after he attended the annual UC Davis Pre-Health & Pre-Medical National Conference as a high school senior.
Bromenschenkel worked diligently to put together a strong application composed of a series of essays, letters of recommendation and a curriculum vitae. After his application was reviewed and an interview conducted, Bromenschenkel became one of the youngest pre-medical surgical interns in a group of upperclassmen and post-graduate students.
“My acceptance into the program has meant a great deal to me,” said Bromenschenkel. “Getting an internship like this is rare for a rising sophomore and has given me a huge boost for future applications.”
Surprisingly, maintaining a hectic schedule was nothing new for Bromenschenkel.
As a student at Waynesburg, Bromenschenkel is a leadership scholar, a resident assistant in Thayer Hall and is involved in ACS (American Chemical Society), AMSA (American Medical Student Association), Biology Club, Society for Analytical Chemists in Pittsburgh (SACP), swing dancing and WOE (Waynesburg Outdoor Experience). He also tutors chemistry and math on campus.
"To me, what makes Trenton stand out as a leader among leaders is that he doesn't try to stand out but rather has a behavioral style of quiet confidence, a clear vision of his goals and an absolute commitment to achieving them," said Mary Cummings, vice president for student services at Waynesburg University.
Through this experience, Bromenschenkel has not only shown his ability to succeed, he has found his calling to become a trauma surgeon.
“This program has definitely cemented my commitment to medicine,” said Bromenschenkel. “I feel like now I know why I’m going through my undergrad and am excited to continue on to medical school.”
The knowledge Bromenschenkel gained in the medical field at UC Davis Hospital will prove to be invaluable as he progresses through his academic career, but equally important, the continual dedication of Waynesburg University students to achieve success has proven that any feat can be accomplished.