Pre Departure (Avital)

I’ve been interested in surgery since my first high school biology class and I am so excited to finally observe it for the first time. I have been working towards my dream of going to medical school and becoming a surgeon for over five years now and I have never stepped inside an OR. If I were to be nervous about any aspect of the experience, it would be being matched with a doctor that isn’t very interactive and enthusiastic about teaching. However, being a pre-med student at one point, I’m sure most doctors can empathize with our desire for clinical experience. I expect to have a more solidified perception of my ultimate goal of becoming a surgeon. My dream would be more of a reality, which will give me even more purpose in my journey. I also expect to learn a lot about surgical procedures and protocols. My goal for the summer is simply to become even more familiarized with the clinical aspect of health care, which is invaluable to a student such as myself working toward a career in medicine.


Avital Simone – The Surgery Group, Los Angeles

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Midway Point

This past week and a half observing in both the operating room and in clinic both confirmed some suspicions and completely refuted others.  For example, the operating room (contrary to Hollywood movies) tends to be a relaxed and happy environment when dealing with operations typically associated with lower risk and complexity.  Further, the health codes and necessary protocol followed in the operating room is as highly regarded and followed as anticipated.  In clinic, I have been granted a unique opportunity to interact with patients from pre-op to observing their operations to post-op recovery and check ups.

The operating room is everything I hoped for and more.  The seamless interactions between the medical professionals and the direct, immediate impact doctors have on their patients is mesmerizing.  Further, being here has proved my worries from before the start of the program futile.  Observing surgery has been nothing short of incredible, and I have truly been too captivated to worry about myself handling the surgeries.

Observing medicine differs greatly from that of learning in a classroom environment.  While both relate in the information used, this shadowing opportunity has shown me the application of medical knowledge in a practical setting, using that gained in the classroom to actively help others.  In clinic, there is no consulting a text-book when a patient needs a diagnosis.  When applying medicine, there is little room for faltering or error.  Further, when practicing surgery, while one can be taught the steps needed to succeed, it is an art that truly requires a form tangible interaction and firsthand practice to build the skills to aptly perform surgery.


– Tamir Zitelny, Long Island Jewish Medical Center

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And They’re Off!

Some of our summer shadows have started their shadowing experiences! Stay tuned to read about how they’re doing!

Happy Blogging 🙂


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This summer, I have been granted the opportunity to shadow a Northwell Health LIJ Colorectal Surgeon, Dr. Marc E. Sher.  This immersive experience where I may peer into the world of a surgeon excites me as, for the first time in my academic career, I will be allowed to observe the art of surgery firsthand.  Being that I am highly interested in pursuing surgery as a future profession, this experience will be perfect for either affirming or reestablishing my interests within the medical field.

Ironically, while I am most excited to observe surgery, the surgeries are also what make me the most nervous.  Being that this opportunity marks my first exposure to surgery outside of a laboratory setting, I am not sure how I will fare as they become more lengthy, complex and risky.

Throughout this shadowing experience, I hope not only to gain insight on what areas of the medical field interest me most, but also gain a newfound appreciation of all the work that doctors do “behind the scenes”.  As a shadow, I will not only observe surgery, but also accompany Dr. Sher in his clinic, interacting with patients in a pre-op and post-op setting. Further, I hope to expand my network amongst professionals in the fields I hope to one day join and also accumulate exposure to the medical field through a point of view not typically available to me.


Tamir Zitelny – Long Island Jewish Medical Center

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Rachel, Pre-Departure

When does summer finally feel like summer? As a kid, it officially felt like summer when my parents sent me to summer camp. We would all pack the night before and then in the blink of an eye I would be alone at camp. Since college, of course, I have grown used to the idea of being without my family. I have never, however, been fully alone. Today, it feels like summer. Last night I packed my bags, and today I am in Philadelphia, alone. In the blink of an eye, I am suddenly without friends or family in a city that I hardly know. For me, someone who has never done anything like this before, it is nerve-wracking to say the least.

I will be having all new experiences for these next four weeks, including shadowing Dr. Gerald Isenberg, a colorectal surgeon at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. I find myself imagining what these next four weeks will be like, how amazing it will be to wake up every morning and spend the day watching and learning behind the scenes at a hospital. As a freshman, I haven’t done anything medicine-related other than my biology classes. This program will be my first. As the school year winded down, I began imagining myself walking down the halls of the hospital, watching Dr. Isenberg attend to his patients. In doing this, I discovered that perhaps my biggest fear is not the shadowing itself, but what I will take away from it. “Doctor” has always been my future title; “Doctor” has always been the path I was creating with every class and every test I took. When I imagine myself in medicine, however, it is all in theory. This summer is reality, and what if I leave thinking, “I don’t enjoy medicine as much as I thought I would?” What is my future then? I would not know.

Although that possible revelation scares me, it also calms me. This month, I get the opportunity to see if I really do enjoy medicine as much as I thought I would. If I can leave this program with just a little more or just a little less confidence in my future, I can begin to really form that future. My biggest fear this summer is my own doubts, but when I get past that, there is a world of opportunity at my fingertips. This summer will not be easy, I’m going to face challenges I have never faced before. I have found, however, that the experiences we struggle with the most, are the experiences most worth the struggle. I can’t wait to start shadowing and learning both about medicine, and about myself.

– Rachel Saunders, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital

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Pre Departure

As a rising junior, I will be shadowing at The Surgery Group in LA this summer. I am very grateful to the Pre-Health department at Brandeis for offering this opportunity to me. I have little experience with varying perspectives in medicine, let alone reasons as to why become a doctor.

I am most excited to observe how various surgeons operate in their daily schedules. Surgery (or even patient interaction) is arguably the most exciting aspect of their careers, but there are other experiences or factors to consider like team dynamic. Moreover, medicinal research and healthcare continue to expand and develop, and doctors often learn and perhaps apply this novel knowledge to their profession. Just considering these details alone and how they fit together in a surgeon’s schedule is very fascinating.

I am most nervous about fulfilling my expectations and possibly shattering my views of medicine (and thus a potential career shift). My expectations are understanding why I would become a surgeon or physician and the impact of healthcare (like the recent government policies proposed) on a clinic or hospital. I do not have much exposure to surgery, other than my participation in my high school’s anatomy and physiology course. It is possible that after shadowing, I will no longer want to become a surgeon or a physician. Still, after talking with Dr. Nasseri and perusing through his surgical center’s website, I know that I will be deeply ingrained in medicine so my decision to choose a job in or not in this industry will be firmly grounded.

A few of my goals include networking with the staff and becoming more acquainted with procedures and terminology used. Moreover, I hope that I can establish long-term relationships with Dr. Nasseri and the other surgeons. Thank you for reading my blog post, and I will update you as the program progresses!

-Trevor — The Surgery Group of Los Angeles

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This summer, I have the opportunity to shadow and work on a clinical research project at Massachusetts General Hospital under the supervision of Nurse Practitioner Lieba Savitt and Dr. Liliana Bordeianou. I’m incredibly excited for this experience because I will be exposed to a new hospital environment and a patient demographic. Last summer, I had a similar opportunity at Boston Children’s Hospital in which I got to see what it meant to be a pediatrician, an anesthesiologist, and a clinical researcher all at the same time. After some of the coursework I completed this year (ie, American Health Care, Physiology, and Human Genetics) and deep reflection on what I wanted to do after Brandeis, I realized just how little I understood about the medical field and what a career would entail.

I hope that this opportunity will not only allow me to apply what I have learned but also further expose me to the many different medical specialties as well as the intricate teamwork all healthcare professionals are involved in. My previous clinical experience revolved around pediatrics, and I would like to see how the same physician roles that I saw at Boston Children’s are adjusted to a different hospital environment and culture such as Mass General. While I’m a little nervous that I won’t be able to meet expectations, I’m confident that this experience will give me more insight and a much better perspective to help me figure out if medical school or another allied healthcare career path is better fit for me.

~Sherry – Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)

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Pre Departure (Ariel)

Today marks the end of spring semester, which is bittersweet. However, I am extremely excited for the summer to come. I am very grateful to the Brandeis Summer Shadowing Program for allowing me the invaluable opportunity to shadow Dr. Cataldo, a renowned colon rectal surgeon at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

I am most excited to shadow in the OR this summer, as it will be my first exposure to surgery here in the U.S. This is a perfectly timed opportunity, as I have just taken the Anatomy course with Professor Jim Morris at Brandeis. During the course, I dissected many organisms, including fetal pigs, perch, and frogs, and studied the various anatomical features of the organisms firsthand.Therefore, I expect to apply many of the things I learned to my observations in the OR.

I am most nervous about making the most of my experience in the shadowing program, as well as doing my part to be a good representative of Brandeis. I am worried that the program will not meet my expectations or that I will not meet the expectations of my project site. I have, however, already spoken with Dr. Cataldo a few weeks prior and he was unbelievably nice and accommodating so I am not nervous about meeting him in person.

My expectations are simple. I expect to be exposed to the inner workings of the hospital environment as well as to learn more about not only the technical aspect of clinical care, but also the human aspect of patient-doctor communication. I have already had a few shadowing experiences abroad, so I look forward to drawing comparisons between my experiences abroad and my shadowing experience at Beth Israel.

My goals for this summer are to:
– Network and develop good relations with Dr. Cataldo and all of the hospital staff
– Apply skills and knowledge from my college courses to my observations in the clinic and OR
– Compare and contrast American and foreign healthcare systems
– Identify gaps or areas for improvement in the American healthcare system
– Learn more about patient-doctor interaction and the anthropological aspect of treatment of illness
– Most importantly: as an aspiring doctor, to learn from Dr. Cataldo about what it truly means to be a healthcare practitioner and to better prepare myself for a future career in medicine

That’s it for now, and I will check back in with you once I have settled into the program. I wish you all a lovely summer!

Ariel – Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

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As a senior in high school, I was fortunate enough to have been placed in a program at my school called the Allied Health Academy. This program was designed to provide to high school students with aspirations to pursue careers in the health field the opportunity to experience being in a hospital setting. Through this program, I was placed on the surgical floor at the Whidden Hospital where I shadowed many outstanding surgeons. It was a very enriching experience even though I was only able to do it for a couple of hours per week. Thinking back about how I felt three years before I began my shadowing experience, and comparing it to how I feel now, the parallels are astonishing. Though I now have prior experience with shadowing and volunteering in a hospital, which I did not have three years ago, I am still incredibly nervous about this summer.

Although I have a general idea of what to expect now, I realize that no two shadowing experiences are the same and therefore no prior experience can truly prepare me for it. Both three years ago and now, I find myself being most nervous about getting used to the new hospital setting. However, while I may be nervous, I am also beyond excited in anticipation of what I will be learning this summer. Knowing how much I’ve gained from my shadowing experience from three years ago, I am certain that I will come out of this experience with yet more knowledge in medicine and on what it means to be a doctor, and with a renewed passion for medicine.


Taisha Joseph – Cambridge Health Alliance

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Pre Departure

This summer shadowing program is one of the biggest things I’ve ever done for a summer, and one of the more important things. I’ve never taken my future into account this heavily before, so I’m incredibly nervous and excited. I’m most excited to finally see what exactly goes on “behind-the-scenes” in the medical field. I’m also excited to gain experience with talking to professionals and learning more about the field; I’m not 100% set on doing pre-med, but hopefully after shadowing, it’ll help me figure out my future better. Maybe I’ll go into pharmacy, or physical therapy, who knows.

I’m super nervous about actually going into the hospital. I’m extremely squeamish, it’s pretty bad, so I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it out of whatever I see alive. I’m also a bit nervous about just networking. There’s no way to practice networking in a class or online; you’re thrust into the situation and have to learn from there. I’m hoping this experience will help me out after, but for now, I’m still nervous.

My expectations for this experience are basically to just figure out how I want to go about my future, whether I want to go through pre-med or switch gears. I hope I’ll be able to see what makes doctors willing to go through all the years of medical school, and if the commitment is worth it.

The primary goal is just to figure out if I want to continue on the pre-med track, or diverge off into something related. Becoming a doctor was something my father always pushed on me, so I’ve never been sure of whether or not I actually would like it. My biggest hope is that I’ll come out of the program with a better understanding of what I want to do with my future.

~ Alice G.

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