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Student’s Arch Away Experience Sheds New Light on Medicine and Health Care

Student’s Arch Away Experience Sheds New Light on Medicine and Health Care

By Monique Gleason

April 29, 2021

As part of the inaugural class participating in The Arch at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Kaelyn Edwards ’21, a biology major, secured a fall semester away internship at FirstHealth of the Carolinas Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst, North Carolina. 

As the flagship hospital for FirstHealth of the Carolinas, FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital is the referral center for 15 counties in the Carolinas. The 402-bed, acute care, not-for-profit hospital has grown since opening in 1929 from a staff of 27 to 287 physicians, 2,700 professional staff, and 900 volunteers. 

To secure her Arch away opportunity, Edwards leaned on her mentor, Susan Gilbert, professor of biological sciences, and the Center for Career and Professional Development. When asked what advice she would give other students searching for an Arch away opportunity, Edwards said, “Keep an open mind! I wasn’t necessarily expecting or hoping to spend four months in a hospital or in a clinical environment. Before going through The Arch program, I always thought I was interested in vaccine development, cell biology, and overall, aspiring to work for a biotech company primarily in a lab-based setting.”

After completing her away experience, Edwards was extremely grateful to have joined FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital, which reshaped her outlook on medicine and the health care industry. “FirstHealth helped me to find a passion that I never knew I had,” said Edwards. 

Drawing on her interests as a biology major, Edwards worked alongside the clinical trials team to assist with day-to-day operations, learning how daily lab techniques can be applied in a clinical setting. “Shadowing physicians and surgeons on the floor and in the operating room showed me how the foundations of biology can be directly applied to a real human every single day,” said Edwards. She also played an integral role in the development and testing of a “TeleHealth On The Go” mobile app, which offered hands-on experience demonstrating how technology and medicine can intersect to provide the best patient care. “Throughout my time here, I met so many inspiring and impactful people that quickly turned into mentors,” said Edwards. 

Her favorite part of her time at Rensselaer has been her peers. “I’ve found that everyone is so driven and passionate while being extremely supportive of one another. This creates a very special learning environment that pushes me to be the best person and student that I can be,” said Edwards. 

After graduation, Edwards plans on taking a gap year before attending medical school. During this time, she plans on pursuing a clinical research position and obtaining her EMT certification. 


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About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America’s first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, 32 research centers, more than 145 academic programs, and a dynamic community made up of more than 7,600 students and more than 100,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include more than 145 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration.