Justin, Midway Point

My last few weeks in the hospital have been such a great learning experience. In many ways the hospital is what I expected; however, I have also learned a lot. I have been exposed to some of the realities of medicine which has taught me some great lessons that I can apply to my pursuit of becoming a physician.

The exposure to the operating room has been such an amazing experience. Dr. Sher and his team have been so helpful during this process. Not only are they all so knowledgeable, but they always stop to teach me things when they have time. Dr. Sher is a great teacher, and will often quiz me to keep me on my toes and facilitate learning. I admire his work ethic and positive spirit in this really tough field.

Medicine has some harsh realities; however, I am glad that I could have this experience. Last week, I went to an M&M (Mortality and Morbidity) conference which I found really fascinating. The purpose of this conference was to identify adverse outcomes and complications in various cases. The presenting resident discussed the specific case and if any different steps should have been taken. In medicine sometimes things do not go as planned even if no mistakes are made. It was really interesting to see this side of medicine especially because it does not get much attention.

In the operating room with Dr. Sher, I have learned so much about the art of surgery. Surgery is really a team effort with every person in the room playing an important role. I have seen that the communication between the physicians, physician assistants and nurses is key to a successful operation. I cannot wait to learn even more with Dr. Sher as I continue this amazing experience. I am really grateful for everyone who has made this experience possible.

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Caylee, Pre-Departure

This summer I will have the incredible opportunity to work with Dr. Patricia Hudson in the Uro-Gynecology department at Mass General Hospital. Many people have asked me what exactly I will be doing this summer, and I usually answer with a slight shrug and say “some sort of combination of clinical and research-based work”. And although I do not really know what to expect this summer, I am beyond excited for the opportunity and can’t wait to embark on this journey tomorrow.

I’ve known I wanted to be a doctor since I was a kid, always listing it as the career choice on my Student of the Week poster or choosing Doctor as my costume for career day. I spent a majority of my elementary years coloring at a desk in my mom’s clinic as she saw patient after patient, and hoping one day I could be a pediatrician just like her. Now 15 years later that is still the path I have my mind set on, and most of my decisions, including applying to the Brandeis Summer Shadowing Program, have been driven by my desire to eventually attend medical school.

My sights have always been set on pediatrics because I love working with kids, so most of my past shadowing experiences have been centered around that path. I’ve shadowed and worked with Neonatologist, Pediatric Oncologist, General Pediatricians, and Pediatric Neurologists, and through each of these experiences I’ve continued to solidify my career choice. Like many others, one of my main reasons for going into medicine is a desire to help others and work with other people, so I really enjoy witnessing the ways different physicians craft their patient interactions in order to help each person to the best of their ability. I am excited to see this summer how Dr. Hudson communicates and works with her patients, especially given the change in demographic from patients I have met in the past.

I am also really excited about the combination of clinical and research that this summer seems to have in store. Most of my experiences over the last few years have been geared toward the more clinical side, but I’ve always wondered if I would enjoy research and trying to help discover advancements in the field of medicine. I’m hoping that in working with Dr. Hudson this summer, I will gain not only a new perspective on adult medicine but also on who I want to be as a physician and the direction I want to follow during these next few years.

I meet with Dr. Hudson for the first time this Monday at 7am, for an orientation to the program and I am faced with so many different emotions about the coming weeks and months. I’m excited for the opportunity to work in a field I love, I’m nervous to meet and work with such accomplished physicians at one of the best hospitals in the country, and I’m slightly terrified to live like an adult and figure out how to cook for myself. But I think I’ll just take it one day at a time, starting tomorrow with my 6am flight back to Boston.

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Christina, Pre-Departure

Hello! My name is Christina and I am a rising junior studying Anthropology, Biology, and HSSP. This summer I will be shadowing Dr. Samer Sbayi at Stony Brook University Hospital in Stony Brook, NY. Dr. Sbayi is the Director of Exigent General Surgery, Assistant Professor of Surgery, Chief of the Mastery in General Surgery Fellowship, Deputy Chief Medical Information Officer and a Brandeis alumni! I am extremely excited to be able to shadow Dr. Sbayi in the Emergency Department, as this is a department that I have only visited and never spent a great deal of time there.

During high school, I volunteered at a local hospital in the Courtesy Department where I escorted patients and delivered medicine and flowers. This experience led to my first visit to the Emergency Department where I was sent to deliver a stool sample to the hospital’s lab. Not the most glamorous first visit, but I was just happy being able to volunteer. This summer I am excited to be doing so much more than just carrying stool samples and actually be in the operating room. While I am nervous about the intensity of emergency surgery, I am eager to be stepping out of my comfort zone and grow in both medical knowledge and my own maturity.

I hope to gain a better understanding of how the emergency department functions, how patients are transported post-surgery to their respective departments, and how doctors and nurses communicate during surgery. During my time there, I expect to learn more about the different jobs that people take on in the operating room as well as ask questions related to the surgery and patient afterwards.

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Justin, Pre-Departure

I am so excited to start shadowing Dr. Marc Sher at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park. Dr. Sher is a colon and rectal surgeon at the hospital, seeing patients in the clinic and performing operations. I would love to learn more about Dr.Sher’s daily routine and responsibilities. Furthermore, any exposure to patient and doctor interactions will be very valuable. One of my main goals is learning more about the physician’s role in the healthcare system.

This past summer, I volunteered at another hospital where I worked on a telemetry floor. My primary responsibility was answering call bells for the patients and doing paperwork. This position gave me a unique insight into working in a medical setting. Nevertheless, this experience taught me that it takes many people to keep a hospital running smoothly. The opportunity to shadow Dr. Sher should provide me with a great perspective on the role of a doctor, specifically a surgeon. Although my past experience helped me affirm my passion for medicine, it lacked direct physician contact. I am looking forward to the opportunity to be able to observe the daily routine of a physician. I have learned throughout my past experiences that some of the best lessons can be gained through colloquial conversation. I would love to learn why certain physicians went into their respective fields. I think that being able to better put a face to the work life of a physician would help me solidify my decision to become a doctor. It will also help motivate me even further to achieve my goals.  

Lastly, I hope I can observe all of the communication and teamwork that goes into each operation and outcome. I wonder though how the team works together when they are faced with challenges.  How often do things not go as planned in their operating room? Also, if things do not go as planned how do the physicians and other medical staff work together to solve the problem? Once again, this is such an amazing opportunity and I am really looking forward to it!

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Cynthia, Pre-Departure

This summer I have been given the opportunity to shadow Dr. Thomas Cataldo at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Dr. Cataldo is an Assistant Professor in Surgery at Harvard Medical School and is on staff in the Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery at Beth Israel. I am excited to shadow Dr. Cataldo as he meets with, examines, and performs surgery on his patients.

Ever since I was eleven, I have wanted to be a doctor. It all stemmed from the fact that I was sick all the time when I was child. Each time I was ill, I would look in a medical book that my parents had to diagnose myself. In middle school and high school, I watched Grey’s Anatomy. Although that show glamorized the medical profession, it furthered my desire to be a doctor and made me curious about what it’s like to be a surgeon. In high school, I attended multiple summer camps helping high school students explore the medical profession. The summer before coming to Brandeis, I interned in a lab at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. While there, I was able to shadow two oncologists who specialized in leukemia. I was able to watch how these doctors interacted with their patients and was even able to interact with a few patients myself. This shadowing reaffirmed my goal of working in the medical profession.

This will be my third shadowing experience but the most substantial because it won’t just be two or three days of shadowing. I am excited to watch the surgeries and see how the doctor interacts with his patients in the clinic. I hope that I am able to watch the surgeries without becoming nauseous. I have never watched a surgery being performed on a patient and am excited to learn about the process of what exactly goes into it. For example, I want to understand the pre-surgery preparations, the actual surgery, and the post-surgery preparations. I wonder if this process will be as it is portrayed in television and the movies.

I also am interested in learning how Dr. Cataldo interacts with other medical professionals in and outside of the operating room. I know that there is a lot of teamwork in medicine and I want to watch this teamwork happening live. I hope to learn about Dr. Cataldo’s journey in becoming a surgeon and the lessons he has learned along the way. I also want to learn what skills are needed in the medical profession.

I believe this shadowing opportunity will show me what it means to be a doctor in the twenty-first century. I also believe it will reaffirm my goal of helping people through the medical profession by one day becoming a doctor myself.  

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Matthew, Pre-Departure

Hi! My name is Matthew Massa and I just finished my first year at Brandeis University. When I first became a part of the Pre-Med Program at Brandeis, I was near certain I wanted to be a doctor and most likely a surgeon. That interest has survived my first year, and now I intend to put it to the test. I will be shadowing Dr. Cataldo, a Colon and Rectal Surgeon at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. This will help me, in part, determine whether I still want to be a Surgeon and help me understand the specialty. I expect to understand the daily routine of a Colorectal Surgeon and what it takes to be a Surgeon. I expect to understand the patient-staff interaction, and I expect to view and understand (as much as possible) various surgical procedures. Above all, I plan to solidify my interest in the medical field and become more informed on what it means to be a surgeon. I need to decide (the sooner the better) and this will help me make an informed decision.

I am most excited about viewing Dr. Cataldo operating in the OR. I have seen operations online, but I have never seen one in person. I am really looking forward to that, it is going to be so cool! What I really like about it is how different it is from anything I’ve seen before. To see the inner machinery of a person just like me is so strange and so interesting. To see it in person is the only way I can appreciate it fully.

I am most nervous about interacting with Dr. Cataldo and the other Staff and asking questions. Specifically, I’m nervous that I will be too nervous to ask questions. I love asking questions, it is how I learn best, but in some of my classes I get psyched out and don’t ask them as often. I hope to overcome this, and that is the biggest obstacle I need to overcome when I shadow. I’ve read great things online about how welcoming he was, though, and how easy the transition was, from other students. I hope that means I’ll be comfortable asking questions. I am also nervous about how I am going to make connections and get other shadowing opportunities from this. I’m nervous about asking and I need to figure out how to. It’s more of an issue near the end, though. For now, I’m going to focus on the experience itself and what’s in front of me, because that is what most interests me.

My goal is to learn what I expected to above. I expect to be intimidated at first, but to grow to be comfortable and I expect them to be real nice over there. These folks save peoples’ lives I’m sure they are as nice as I hear! I look forward to this experience, and I am more grateful than ever for being given access to it.

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Lev, Pre-Departure

I am beyond excited to participate in the Brandeis Summer Shadowing Program under Dr. Liliana Bordeianou and Nurse Practitioner Lieba Savitt of the Pelvic floor disorders unit at Massachusetts General Hospital. For this program, I will both shadow and participate in clinical research, making for a multifaceted and unique internship opportunity. It will be an incredible chance to gain experience in the field and learn about a career which I have been interested in for so long. I am truly excited to start.

First, I am very excited for the shadowing component of this program. Through observing Dr. Bordeianou’s practice and perhaps that of other physicians in the unit, I hope to be able to better understand and appreciate the daily tasks and responsibilities of a doctor. It is my philosophy that there is no better way to learn about a career than to experience it directly, and for this reason, I anticipate that this aspect of the program will be worthwhile. I am confident that shadowing will provide valuable insight and ultimately enhance my perception of the field of medicine.

In addition, am thrilled to be able to contribute to Dr. Bordeianou’s ongoing retrospective research to monitor the success of her treatments. As research is a great passion of mine, I was drawn to apply to this internship largely for this great opportunity. In the past, I have worked in academic laboratories performing in basic scientific studies, and this was quite impactful. It was incredible to be able to study complex details of life in order to better understand and ultimately treat disease. However, having gained an understanding of academic research, I am ready to explore the application of scientific knowledge toward clinical care. I am hopeful that helping with clinical research will allow me to better understand how it intersects with medicine, which is something that has interested me for a long time.

Although the responsibilities of this internship are very appealing to begin with, making the most out of my summer will require more than just completing all of the required tasks. It will be important for me to initiate my own learning through interacting with others and asking questions. I realize that what I will gain from the internship depends on the energy I put into it, and for that reason I must be active and engaged throughout the process. Overall, though, I am mostly excited about the program simply for the new opportunity to work in a medical environment. Until now, most of what I have learned about the field has been through reading or hearing about it from others, and while this has certainly been informative, I have yet to experience it for myself and thus construct my own perception. This internship will take place during the summer before my senior year, and as I begin to plan my next steps after college, having an informative experience with this program will be very important. But I believe that by combining the right mindset with my excitement for medicine, this program will turn out to be an enjoyable, enlightening, and interesting summer experience.


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Danni, Pre-Departure

This summer I will be working with Dr. Edelson who is an Ob/Gyn doctor and also a Maternal-Fetal Medicine fellow at MGH. Before the program start, I do not know what to expect. I know I will be helping out with research projects related to women’s health and global health. But besides that, I have no idea what kind of work environment I will be in and how I will fit in in a setting or a team where people around me are much older and knowledgeable than I am.

Therefore, I am very excited and a little anxious before starting. I think this will be a great opportunity to learn. I have some healthcare experience before this program. I became EMT certified when I was a junior in high school and worked in a local ambulance base for awhile. I had also shadowed with a Orthopedic PA in high school.  I am also a volunteer at the imaging department at MGH where I help patients get ready to image and help navigate patients around the hospital. Through these experiences, I was able to gain insights on how to provide basic emergency help to patients and see how do health professionals interact with patients.There activities also inspired me to continue the pre health track.

I hope working with Dr. Edelson this summer can help me gain a better understanding of clinical research. I have been working in a biology research lab at Brandeis for a year now and it has really inspired me to dive into the research field in the future. With my passion for healthcare and research, seeing what clinical research is like can help me decide if the MD/PHD path is a possible option for me. This summer I also hope to meet health professionals who are not only doctors but also clinical lab PIs, nurses and PAs. In addition, I wish I can gain insights on the long journey of becoming a doctor. Is it really worth it to spend the next ten years pursuing a medical degree and how to prevent potential burn-out in the future? I know I want to go into medicine but I hope this program can help me strengthen my decisions.

I look forward to this summer!


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Ruchir, Pre-Departure

Looking ahead at this summer, I anticipate a very exciting, engaging, and rewarding experience. While I have been involved with hospital environments in the past, I have never participated in any type of clinical research or shadowing. I expect it to be quite different from the lab research and hospital volunteering that I am used to. From a volunteer position, it is nice that you are able to help the hospital and patients in certain capacities, but sometimes your scope of what the doctors are actually doing can be limited. Because of this I am very much looking forward to the opportunity to shadow under Dr. Bordeianou and participate in research around colorectal surgery.

Because this experience is my first one in a hospital that is not in a volunteer capacity, I am sure that more will be expected of me and I hope to be able to further the goals and the research of what I will be assisting the group with. Moreover, I hope to take advantage of the chances being given to me and aim to learn as much as I can, not only about colorectal surgery and research but also about what goes into successful surgeries, preparation for them, and healthy patient interactions.

In my pursuit of becoming a doctor, I have tried to gain exposure to the hospital environment as much as I can. I truly believe this will be the most informative and illuminating experience for me up until now. While volunteering and taking science classes are very important to my development towards becoming a doctor, seeing and understanding what goes into the everyday life of being one and functioning in a hospital setting is something that I think is most crucial and will be the most eye-opening for me.


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Lydia, Pre-Departure

I am greatly looking forward to beginning my time shadowing Dr. Milena Weinstein in the urogynecology department. In addition to observing interactions with patients, I hope to learn more about the research that goes on in this department.

While I am not sure what to expect, this being my first time shadowing, I am very excited to familiarize myself with the day-to-day activities of a doctor and what happens behind the scenes. I am especially interested in learning more about the electronic medical system, as it is an integral part of modern medicine.

Additionally, I hope that this experience will give me more insight into the field of medicine that I might want to pursue based on talking to doctors in the department. Because the medical field is so vast, it is hard to narrow in on a topic and lifestyle that is of particular interest.

Because my main experience with doctors is from the patient perspective, I am curious as to the techniques that are used by physicians to assess and diagnose patients. I would like to learn more about how doctors develop their own style of patient assessment.

I am excited to learn more about how physicians, nurses, and other members of the hospital team work together and what their various roles are. It must take a great deal of communication for a large-scale hospital such as MGH to function and provide excellent patient care.

I am hopeful that this experience will not only be interesting, but also give me insight into what I would like to do in the future.


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