Each summer Park Scholars are given the opportunity to explore the world of medicine through the Brody-Park internship. The internship, coordinated by the Park Scholarships program, allows students to shadow physicians, residents, and medical students at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. Internship participants receive funding through the Park Enrichment Grant program.
During the summer of 2013, Alyssa D’Addezio ‘14 and Catherine Thriveni ‘15 participated in the five-week pediatrics and internal medicine internship which allows students to shadow the newborn nursery, cardiology, and surgery departments, as well as Brody’s pediatric inpatient wards and various outpatient specialty clinics. Nancy Thai ‘14 participated in an eight-week internship in the cardiovascular department at Brody. There she shadowed surgeons in the operating room and in clinics.
On November 14, D’Addezio, Thai, and Thriveni will host an information session for fellow Park Scholars who are interested in applying for the Brody-Park internship in 2014. In preparation for this session, they reflected on their own experiences.
“The Brody-Park Internship is an intense immersion into the field of medicine that goes far beyond the typical shadowing experience,” says D’Addezio. “We were in the hospital observing different specialties and physicians every single day. From this internship, I am excited to possibly pursue primary care pediatrics in under-served populations like eastern North Carolina.”
D’Addezio plans to attend medical school upon graduation in the spring. She says this internship afforded her practical and in-depth applications of her studies, and provided an opportunity to interact directly with physicians and other students.
D’Addezio explains the best part of the internship was being able to connect with the strong community of staff and physicians at the Brody School of Medicine. She says the most challenging aspect was trying to keep up with the fast pace and seeing the struggles of serving so many patients with such a disparity of needs.
Thriveni says the Brody-Park internship is well known among all pre-medicine students in the Park Scholarships program as the best opportunity to gain hands-on exposure in the field. Thriveni says this experience has reaffirmed her desire to attend medical school and pursue pediatrics.
The most rewarding aspect of the internship, Thriveni describes, was being able to see firsthand her dream career being practiced. She says, “As a pre-medicine student, you spend so much time in the classroom, you sometimes forget what you’re working towards. Brody reminded me of that.”
The most challenging aspect for Thriveni was realizing how much was left ahead in her journey to becoming a physician, although she says it is an exciting prospect at the same time.
“Being a Park Scholar prepared me for this opportunity by encouraging me to make the most of the experience. As a generally introverted person, I’ve learned through the Park program to be confident and ask questions and jump at all opportunities given to me. When one of the pediatric cardiology physicians offered to take me to an autopsy, I had no hesitation; viewing the procedure was a chance I wanted to take!”
Thai says she initially wanted to participate in the pediatric and internal medicine internship but, “as fate would have it,” she found herself in the cardiovascular department in May. She describes it as one of the most incredible experiences of her life.
Thai is currently a senior majoring in human biology and plans to attend medical school after graduation. She says this experience helped give her a glimpse into the career and further fuel her motivation. During her time at Brody, Thai was able to incorporate other passions into her interest in medicine; for example, she used her knowledge of photography and camera lenses to decrease surgical scope fogging.
While Thai found it challenging to adjust to the new environment alone alongside professionals, she says it was a remarkably rewarding learning experience.
“I saw that the road to becoming a physician was filled with long, hard work that would test me physically, mentally, and emotionally,” she says. “However, I also saw the beauty in helping people to heal and the joy in seeing patients get better.”
Story by Laura Turner