DAN Intern: Stefanie Martina

When I was offered the Divers Alert Network Research Internship for the summer of 2011, I knew that the internship would present me with tremendous learning and growing opportunities. Diving physiology is a fascinating field, but finding opportunities to gain exposure to the field can be difficult.

Interns are placed either at on-site field locations or at the DAN headquarters in Durham, N.C. I was placed at the DAN headquarters working with Dr. Neal Pollock in the DAN Research department. Under his guidance, I had an internship that helped to develop my future in a field that is my passion.

I remember on the first day of my internship, I was eager, excited and uncertain of exactly what the internship had in store for me. I learned quickly that typical work days do not exist at DAN. Some days I would be at the Duke Hyperbaric Clinic observing and assisting with different experiments. I learned about hyperbaric chamber operations and oxygen therapy. Other days I would collect information for the freediving fatality database, which has helped DAN to identify trends to better understand the reasons behind div e accidents and improve diver safety.

Throughout the summer, I gained first hand exposure to the workings of an Institutional Review Board and the governing principles of human research ethics. I helped to develop the new on-site physiology lab and learned the techniques of transthoracic echocardiogram. I attended numerous informative lectures on decompression sickness, bubble formation and other related topics in dive medicine.

In addition to hard work, my internship incorporated many fun activities such as weekly volleyball games (which I still attend a year later), holiday cookouts and other events that helped me become a part of the DAN family.

It was hard to leave, but the internship helped me to network and learn of other opportunities in the field. I am currently working as a laboratory technician at the Duke Hyperbaric Clinic. Through my experience at DAN and my continued work at Duke, I have completed several abstract publications in the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society Journal and a presentation at the annual symposium. My passion for the field of diving medicine and physiology continues to grow every day, and I am grateful to DAN for making my internship such an outstanding experience.

DAN Internships