A needle driver is used to pick up the needle during the suturing process. “It is always curved so that you can get an angle and come back out,” Rivero said. (Livi Ralston)
A needle driver is used to pick up the needle during the suturing process. “It is always curved so that you can get an angle and come back out,” Rivero said.

Livi Ralston

Rivero finds ambition in interships

March 6, 2023

Through bariatric operations, gastrointestinal surgeries, and even liver and heart transplants, Junior Santi Rivero stands side by side with Medical University of South Carolina surgeons. 


Over the summer of 2022, Rivero joined an internship at MUSC to work with and watch surgeons as they perform various types of surgical procedures. 


“I heard about this internship opportunity through Trident actually…I have to take certain training classes,” Rivero said.


In order to be eligible for his internship, Rivero had to take multiple classes in preparation. 


“I had to take the science course, humanities course, communications course, a math course, and…it’s oriented specifically just for this,” Rivero said. 


Not only did these courses help him for his internship, but Rivero was able to relate his knowledge from his scheduled classes in school. 


“I’ve been able to apply to my science classes, because I’m doing the biomed course right now. I’ve been able to apply a lot of that so that’s definitely helped. It goes both ways too. A lot of stuff I’ve been learning in AP Bio, I’ve been able to apply there. It’s like a two way street,” Rivero said. 


One class Rivero especially pertained his knowledge to was Health Science, taught by East Cooper Advanced Studies teacher Sandra Leland. 


“We talk about the history of health care careers in health care, vital signs, we teach how to take vital signs, legal and ethical issues in healthcare, infection control, and safety,” Leland said. 


Having been in his internship before taking Health Science, Rivero still learned more from Leland’s course that helped him further his knowledge for his job. 


“He already had his internship before so what he picked up in class would be more along the lines of the legal and ethical issues. He probably was learning infection control there because he’s working in sterile supply, so he already had a grasp on so much of what we were already covering,” Leland said. 


Leland was amazed at Rivero’s knowledge and experience regarding the Health Science curriculum that he took last semester. 


“He really is extraordinary. He seems to be very focused on what he wants to do and he has just figured out that path he needs to be on and he’s just gone for it. I’m so proud of him,” Leland said. 


While still being in high school, Rivero had to build his trust with the crew before advancing into more important positions. 


“When I was starting out, it was pretty slow. You’re pretty distant from the whole crazy hospital setting but as you get more into it, the more experience, it lets you have more roles that are more influential,” Rivero said. 


As he spent more time with the faculty, Rivero eventually was promoted to work in the operating room. 


“Familiarizing myself with everybody in the operating room, I’ve been able to take part in a lot of surgeries…ranging from heart transplants, to lung transplants to GI and bariatric surgery,” Rivero said. 


Rivero’s current job is to sterilize the instruments being used for the surgeries which is a crucial part in the process.


“What I do is something called sterile processing, and preoperative instrumentation… so part of my job is to make sure that each surgery has all the instruments that are needed before the case starts and to make sure that the instruments are sterile. So it’s safe for that to be used on a patient,” Rivero said. 


Rivero spends his time at his internship under the administration of Greg Gischia Jr, the sterile processing supervisor at the Health Ashley River Tower. 


Although they do not work side by side, Gischia and Rivero can rely on each other for help at any time despite Gischia’s busy job. 


“I don’t spend much time over at his desk. I’ll usually be coordinating things through our software system, finding needs, answering phone calls. If he has a problem or notices something that he has a problem or a solution to a problem, he’ll call me over and then we’ll work on it together,” Gischia said. 


Gischia finds that Rivero has been a huge help not only to himself, but with everyone else he works with. 


“He’s great. He’s very reliable and very, very curious. He learned about everything as soon as he had the opportunity to. He’s been a big help to my department,” Gischia said. 


Rivero plans to become a surgeon, as he is inspired by those he works with, and is willing to take on the duration of time and effort it takes to become a surgeon. 


Above all, Rivero says one must be willing to learn and adapt in order to work in the medical field. 


“Some advice is that you definitely have to be cut out for it, because there’s a lot of blood… but I mean, that’s part of working in a medical field. There’s a lot you have to be willing to learn and to adapt as well,” Rivero said. 


To join the career path of working in health care, Leland says it is important that one should have the same willingness for a successful future as Rivero does. 


“They have to be dependable, responsible, willing to learn all these characteristics to have to work in health care. You’ve got to be willing to accept criticism. Constructive criticism, dependable, responsible, honest, ethical, he’s all of that,” Leland said. 

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