Class of 2005 Students Share Their Summer Experiences
This document is composed of vignettes written by Class of 2005 B.U. medical students about their summer 2002 experiences. These students have graduated from BUSM, but the information continues to be useful for first-year students exploring summer experiences.
List of Experiences:
- AAFP National Conference, EMT Work, and Family Time
- AFAR Geriatric Scholars Program
- American Cancer Society’s Betty Lea Stone Fellowship
- AMSA Health Services Fellowship Program
- Boston Schweitzer Fellowship
- Externship at Coler-Goldwater Memorial Hospital
- Family Medicine Clinical Externship (1)
- Family Medicine Clinical Externship (2)
- Family Medicine Clinical Externship (3)
- Framingham Heart Study
- Helping Hands in Kathmandu, Nepal
- Research: Clinical Addiction Research and Education (CARE)
- Research: Department of Pharmacology
- Summer Institute for Medical Students at the Betty Ford Center
My summer pretty much worked out to spending some much needed time with my family on vacation in Arizona, working as much as I could working as an EMT, and attending the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) National Conference in Kansas City, Missouri (a fully reimbursed opportunity available to all of you, contact me for more information). I wanted to relax, but at the same time keep in touch with medicine and not completely forget everything I learned first year. Working as an EMT was interesting with all of the new knowledge that I had acquired, and going to the conference was a great opportunity to meet medical students, faculty, and academy members from around the country. There were educational lectures, mixers, dances, nights out, and a huge exhibit hall filled with residency directors. They were very understanding of the fact that most of us were 1st and 2nd years and didn’t yet know what specialty we would be pursuing, and helped us to learn what types of things residency programs look for in general and also what to look for in a program. It was a great experience, and my summer definitely kept me busy while giving me a chance to have fun working and enjoy time with my family. Enjoy your summer, take time off, but don’t forget to do or experience something that will keep you in touch with your medical training.
I spent time with family here in Boston and I did a geriatric scholarship this summer. Through the American Federation on Aging Research (AFAR), I conducted a research project on a health issue that was geriatric related. I chose to study Alzheimer’s Disease, specifically the impact of susceptibility testing for AD on the prospective patient. In addition to the project, I was required to attend many of the fourth-year seminars on age-related issues. I also had a half day per week going on rounds with fourth-year students at nursing homes and in the hospital which gave me a glimpse of what fourth year is going to be like (fourth-year students seem very happy and relaxed!) In May of this year, I will present my research at the AFAR annual meeting (all expenses paid) in Baltimore.
I received a fellowship from the American Cancer Society called the Betty Lea Stone Fellowship. At BU, Dr. Ryser is the contact person. He hooked me up with a lab here at the medical school, namely Dr. Yan Chen’s lab, doing cancer research. I got to pick which field I wanted to work in, and could have picked my own research advisor if I had wanted to. My research involved growing different lung tumor cell lines, and only took a few hours a day, thus leaving plenty of time for my other jobs: I also taught during the end of my first year and through the summer. I ran the biology, o-chem, reading, and writing sections of the MCAT class for the minority students already accepted to BUSM as undergrads. This ran from May to the beginning of July. The program is run by the Office of Minority Affairs at BUSM. When that ended, I taught a toned-down version of IP to minority high school students, which was part of a program called BAYHEC. Their office is on the other side of Mass. Ave. over by the gym. Incidentally, I’m not a minority student – it’s just that many programs will only take minority students. The instructors can still be white, although they would have loved to hire minority instructors as well. The summer is very short, so there really isn’t a lot of time; however, it’s a great time to try something new. I hadn’t ever taught before, so I wanted to get some experience with that. If you want to make money, take several jobs and apply for fellowships. Most are pretty easy to get.
I participated in the AMSA Health Services Fellowship Program that was based here in Boston. See the AMSA web site for a description. Please feel free to contact me if you think you may wish to apply for this program and would like more info. Start early!!! Especially if you are looking to do research and contribute to a publication as first or second author. If you have time on your hands and want to start something after Neuroscience, you should start shopping around right after Thanksgiving at the latest. It take time to find a project that you like. It also gives you time to try to line up some financing, either through outside sources or perhaps through your PI. Be warned that it’s very easy to kick back after Neuroscience and have the summer upon you before you know it.
I applied for the Boston Schweitzer Fellowship in January and after interviewing and being accepted, I began the Fellowship in April. Every month we meet and discuss our community service projects (in various health-care fields), but I didn’t really begin my service hours until July. So I completed my required 200 hours with the BUMC Outreach Van Project over the summer. I am continuing with the Fellowship this fall and into the early spring. The Fellowship pays a $2000 stipend. I also worked part-time in the mornings at the Natick Community Organic Farm teaching kids, ages 6-9, about farming. I have my own garden plot at the Farm, too. So I did a lot of outdoor work in my garden over the summer and just tried to relax as much as possible!
Tanya Buma and Chen Kenyon participated in the six-week externship at Coler-Goldwater Memorial Hospital (Roosevelt Island, New York City), a 2,000 bed specialty care hospital with programs in AIDS, Rehab. Medicine, General Medicine of Chronic Illnesses, Ventilator Care, Geriatrics, and Developmental Disabilities.
Tanya: It was great to get some real hands-on clinical experience after mostly classroom-based material of first year. It was good because we got exposed to so many different areas of long term care, including not only medical subspecialties, but also things like PT and OT which we probably wouldn’t get much exposure to elsewhere. All of the people who Chen and I worked with were very nice and eager to teach us about their role in patient care.
Chen: I had an amazing experience at Coler-Goldwater this last summer. The clinical exposure was tremendous, the physicians were eager to teach (with only one or two exceptions – and I was with a different attending every day), and I met a few of the most inspiring individuals (physicians and patients) that I have encountered to this point in my life (and generally I tend not to overstate things). The experience was a challenge in many ways but the end result was well worth it.
I received a $1000 stipend to undertake a Family Medicine four-week clinical externship in July and August, which was a fantastic experience. This experience is offered through the Department of Family Medicine at B.U.S.M.; you can complete the externship anywhere in the US; mine was in Waltham with the legendary Dr. Adrian Blake (he just celebrated his 50th year as a physician). The summer gave me a huge head start in learning clinical medicine and a chance to remind myself why I am in this whole crazy ballgame to begin with. The key here is finding a physician who will let you actually DO things! That assumed, the externship is amazing! Of course, to keep those bills low, I also taught MCAT for Kaplan Test Prep, which I am happy to discuss with anyone. Don’t throw the summer away, but don’t stress about finding THE resume maker: find something that you will enjoy!!
I participated in the Family Medicine Externship. My preceptor was a rural family practice physician in upstate New York. It was an absolutely amazing experience, in part because he was wonderful mentor, but also because it was a chance to put into practice a lot of the material that is learned in the first year. It definitely put a “face” to some of the endless anatomy and physiology! It was also a great experience in terms of gaining “clinical confidence,” so to speak. Talking to patients is definitely a learned art and this was a really low pressure way to gain some really valuable experience. I would highly recommend the externship, or a similar experience to any first year!
I participated in the Externship in Family Medicine run by the Department of Family Medicine at BU. Dr. Nan Harvey is the organizer and she is extremely helpful and devoted to the program. Students can choose any location in the U.S. to do their externship and are required to find a mentor (anyone board-certified in Family Medicine) on their own. (Note: this was perhaps the most challenging part of the program!) I did my externship in Medford, MA with Dr. Shani Lipset who is wonderful! Almost every day one of her patients would tell me how much they loved her and what a great doctor she is! It was really wonderful to spend so much time working with a physician and interacting with patients. I finally got to see what it is like for physicians to develop long-term relationships with their patients. I also learned a lot about treating a variety of illnesses ranging from warts to injuries to depression. In order to keep in touch with the other B.U. students participating in the program there is an on-line component to the Externship in which participants post notes about their experiences. This program is only four weeks long (and includes a $1000 stipend), which leaves plenty of time for relaxing, spending time with friends and family, traveling, etc. (And in my case, planning my wedding and getting married!) Whatever you choose to do this summer, don’t worry about your resume; do something fun and meaningful to you. Make sure to leave time for relaxing and catching up on sleep and going to the beach!
This summer I worked at the Framingham Heart Study in Framingham, MA. I was hired by the neuropsychology group of the Framingham Heart Study. They are investigating dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease among other neurological findings that come with aging. What I did specifically was administer a 45-minute neuropsych. exam to Spanish-speaking participants. This was done at the Framingham MRI Center, and the participants would also receive a head MRI as part of the study. A participant’s MRI and neuropsych. Exam score is observed prospectively over a number of years (until the participant’s death or refusal to continue the study.) This would hopefully give some clues to the causes and time frame of certain neurological diseases such as dementia, Alzheimer’s etc. I had the opportunity to practice my Spanish for the whole summer, calling and recruiting participants over the phone as well as administering the exam. I found the participants of the Framingham Study to be sincerely dedicated and willing to do everything they could to help. They were a great group to work with and it was a very enjoyable summer. I was paid very well and it was an extremely comfortable and laid back atmosphere. I would encourage any first-year student to, above all, ENJOY your one and only very short break over the summer! Do something that interests you, but do not be afraid to leave medicine behind for a bit or do nothing at all! Travel, spend time with friends and family, make some money, RELAX! Second year is as hard as they say, so get your rest (body and mind.)
I took part in a really great program in Nepal this summer. I spent 4 weeks working at clinic just outside of Kathmandu, Nepal and then spent a 10 days trekking in the Himalayas (Annapurna Base Camp and back) as part of program called Helping Hands. The clinical time was great and I learned a lot of practical stuff about diseases that predominate in Nepal. If your looking for a good way to spend some time abroad and learn a little clinical medicine, it’s a great program.
I worked with Dr. Jeffrey Samet in the Clinical Addiction Research and Education (CARE) unit. I participated in the Medical Student Summer Research Program and was awarded a stipend for summer research. I completed a project investigating the use of the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) in addictions clinical research. Working in the CARE unit was fantastic. Dr. Samet is a wonderful mentor and the other researchers in the office were incredibly helpful. I learned a great deal about the conduct of clinical trials and was able to gain experience in writing papers for publication. Advice: I would advise attempting to work with a physician committed to mentoring.
My summer was spent doing research in the department of Pharmacology. My advice would be to keep an eye on the LISTSERV because these opportunities are always being posted on there. Also, just go up to the department offices and ask someone abut summer research opportunities.
Summer Institute for Medical Students at the Betty Ford Center, Rancho Mirage, California by Dexter Wong
I spent a week at the Betty Ford clinic observing first hand the treatment of addictions. The program totally immerses its students (15 medical students from the U.S.) in the program including AA meetings, small groups, and seminars. A very powerful and memorable experience. And last but not least, I spent a week surfing and playing the in the California sun. I recommend having at least some down time. Spend some time thinking and planning your summer as soon as possible. The earlier and more carefully you plan, the better chance of getting a more interesting summer experience and some even pay pretty good. But if you decide to do nothing…don’t feel guilty – just enjoy doing nothing well.