For the second year in a row, the college has had three first-year students receive the national scholarship and spend their summer shadowing cardiothoracic surgeons.
The eight-week rotations take them through clinical rotations at University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and Good Samaritan Hospital. Additionally, students a day each week of their rotation learning about basic science research and are involved in a clinical project, which they see through to completion.
"The clinical project really allows us to maintain ties with the students and mentor them through the remainder of their medical school career. They’ve all said it’s a great experience, like nothing else,” says Sandra Starnes, MD, John B. Flege, Jr. Chair in Cardiothoracic Surgery and chief of cardiothoracic surgery.
Starnes leads the AATS scholarship at UC, and has created the John Flege scholarship to further support students’ participation in the summer cardiothoracic program. The society typically limits participating institutions to two students per year, but has awarded three applications from UC for two straight years.
She says the scholarship is a rare opportunity for first-year medical students to gain exposure to highly specialized field like cardiothoracic surgery. That’s important, since the training for the specialty can take up to eight years.
For student Harris, his interest in the general field of surgery began after undergoing hand surgery. He says he "jumped at the opportunity” for the AATS scholarship after hearing Starnes present the program this past winter.
"I have greatly enjoyed my time with the thoracic service so far,” he says. "From day one, you have the feeling that you are a part of the team.”
Harris says the AATS students go on rounds daily with the senior resident, resident intern and a third-year student.
"You get to attend the clinics as well as the operations, which provides you a unique opportunity to see both before and after states of the patients who are treated, something I would describe as no less than truly fascinating,” he says.
"My favorite part of the experience has been the wide variety of surgeries that I not only observed but participated in. I got a chance to hold the pericardium as it was being dissected. I even got a chance to gently touch a patient's beating heart. I have touched a cancer that was cut out of a patient's lung. The list can go on and on.”