Park Scholars Gain Clinical Experience at Brody School of Medicine

posted 2011.09.19

This past summer, three Park Scholars held internships at East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine and immersed themselves in a unique clinical opportunity.


Dr. Wiley Nifong, Andrew Miller, Mark Draelos, and Dr. Randolph Chitwood prepare for a surgical procedure.

Mark Draelos ‘12 and Andrew Miller ‘13 worked in the East Carolina Heart Institute under Dr. Randolph Chitwood and Dr. Wiley Nifong. The students observed surgical procedures with Chitwood and learned about minimally invasive heart surgery techniques at the Robotics Training Center with Nifong. Draelos and Miller also had the opportunity to work directly with the da Vinci Surgical System featured in the Institute’s state-of-the-art robotic operating rooms.

“Working with Dr. Chitwood and Dr. Nifong takes learning to a new level,” says Miller. “Everyone dissects a heart in an anatomy class, but few people have done it under the guidance of internationally recognized surgeons — it’s similar to learning foreign policy from the President of the United States.”

Mark Draelos and Andrew Miller work with the da Vinci Surgical System.

During the internship, Draelos and Miller created a surgical case video for the Cardiothoracic Surgery Network and developed an interactive continuing medical education case for the American College of Cardiology.

“As an electrical engineering student interested in medical robotics, I could not have found a better way to spend my summer than with the doctors in the Brody School of Medicine,” says Draelos.

Nearby, Rebekah Jewell ‘11 worked with Dr. Dale Newton in the area of primary care pediatrics and internal medicine. Jewell shadowed physicians in various settings, including the pediatric clinic and hospital, newborn nursery, adult medicine clinics, and operating rooms. She also participated in pediatric faculty meetings and clinical case presentations.

Rebekah Jewell examines a patient in the acute care clinic.

“The experience allowed me to delve into an area of medicine to which I had previously been unexposed — primary care,” says Jewell. “Although I had always been interested in surgery, I found the opportunity to build relationships with patients through managing care alluring, and I realized that pediatrics is actually a much better fit for my interests and passions.”

The Brody-Park internships were established by the Brody School of Medicine and Park Scholarships program to provide interactive clinical and scientific summer experiences for Park Scholars in the areas of cardiovascular medicine, primary care pediatrics, and internal medicine.

Draelos graduated this past spring with degrees in electrical and computer engineering and physics, and is continuing his education as a graduate student in electrical engineering through the accelerated bachelor’s-master’s program. After finishing his graduate studies, Draelos plans to enroll in an M.D./Ph.D. program and advance the development of medical technology.

Jewell, a biological sciences and psychology major, plans to begin medical school next year and enter a joint residency program in internal medicine and pediatrics upon completion of her medical degree. She plans to practice as a primary care physician.

Miller intends to enroll in medical school in 2013 and specialize in either cardiovascular medicine or orthopedic surgery.