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Inside the Operating Room

  • News Image
    Kelsey Rice is one of the first two students from Southwestern participating in a job shadowing program at St. David's Hospital in Georgetown. Rice is shown here outside the operating room.
  • News Image
    Nurses Dixie Campbell and Stephanie Lawhon introduce Morgan Gallo to the rehabilitation unit at St. David's Hospital.

New program gives students a chance to shadow medical professionals for 10 weeks

Students who are interested in attending medical school face a Catch-22 situation: medical schools want to see that prospective applicants have had some experience volunteering in hospitals or shadowing medical professionals, but such opportunities can be hard to find.

Southwestern students now have the chance to shadow doctors for a full semester, thanks to a new program started by Career Services.

“Because Southwestern has such a high percentage of pre-med students, we felt it was important to be able to offer some sort of job shadowing program so that those students would have the opportunity to see if medicine was really for them,” said Maria Kruger, internship coordinator in Career Services. “Training to become a doctor can take 8 to 12 years of your life, so students need to make sure this is what they want.”

Kruger said finding long-term job shadowing opportunities in any medical field is difficult because of the liability issues and the fact that hospitals already have a lot of medical school students they are trying to help train.

Since Southwestern already had students interning in specific areas at St. David’s Hospital in Georgetown – such as inpatient rehab and cardiac rehab − Kruger approached the hospital about offering a semester-long job shadowing program. The first two students to be selected for the program were Kelsey Rice and Morgan Gallo, both of whom are junior biology majors. The two have been spending four hours every Friday shadowing medical professionals who work in a variety of departments at St. David’s, including Outpatient Surgery, Physical Therapy, Radiology and Women’s Services.

On a recent Friday, Rice arrived at the hospital before 6 a.m. to observe a full morning of surgeries.

“The program really is a great experience and it is so cool that Southwestern offers opportunities such as this to its students,” she said.

Rice said the experience has definitely solidified her desire to enter the healthcare field. She is applying to schools that offer physician assistant programs this spring. 

Gallo said the program has confirmed her desire to become a physician, and has made her think about some areas of medicine she never thought she would be interested in. 

“I have enjoyed the program very much thus far,” she said.  “I’ve learned a lot about general hospital procedures ( the ways things are run) and specifics within each of the fields I have observed. I’ve honestly enjoyed different things about each of the areas I’ve shadowed in, which makes it difficult to pick a favorite. However, if I had to pick one, I would say surgery. I observed in the OR my first week at the hospital, and I loved how involved and hands-on the whole surgical process is.” 

Kruger said she hopes to expand the program to include other hospitals in the area so that more students will have the opportunity to participate in it.