This past summer, I had a chance to be a part of the National Student Leadership Conference’s program in Medicine and Health Care at Harvard Medical School. Although the depth of the word “life-changing” has become hackneyed due to how often it is negligently thrown around, it is the only word I am able to fathom to accurately describe my experience. Medicine intrigued me; I wanted to go into the medical field like my father. However, this trip definitely pushed my mind over the edge.
There were many guest speakers and lectures, ranging from veterinary medicine to Emergency Care and Pediatrics. When I was younger, neurosurgery sounded very appealing to me. I thought that learning about the neurons in the brain was interesting. Not to mention, the name alone was mesmerizing. However, I eventually realized how difficult the path to becoming a neurosurgeon was, so I turned to different kinds of surgery that wouldn’t be as intense and time-consuming. One of the speakers that really stood out to me specialized in Otolaryngology. At this presentation I learned becoming an ENT would allow me to become a surgeon and also allow me some time for my family. Although, I also had the opportunity to see a live open-heart surgery, which really piqued my interest and makes me think that maybe I would want to be a cardiovascular surgeon or doctor of the sort.
Furthermore the amount of hands-on experience I got was incredible. Some of my favorite activities were the clinical rounds and surgical rounds. During the clinical rounds, we were given the chance to act as “mock” doctors and diagnose simulated patients. We were given a binder with a list of possible illnesses, and what symptoms would be associated with it. There were various meeting times sprinkled within the nine days to accurately diagnose our patients. During the surgical rounds I had the chance to dissect a cow eye and sheep heart. However, the experience of suturing a pig’s leg is the one thing that vividly sticks with me to this day, which I learned is something most people don’t get to do until their second year in medical school.
The best parts of the program weren’t even medicine related. We did so much like driving up to a ropes course, visiting Quincy Market, college touring, karaoke night, and even a dance party, that I forgot I was at a medical camp half of the time. I didn’t expect to have nearly as fun as I did. If we’re being completely honest, I didn’t even want to go at first. School had just ended and I wanted a break and spend my last summer going into high school with my family and friends. And yet, I wouldn’t trade my experience for the world. It was definitely the people I spent my week with that had the most profound effect on my life. They were some of the most genuine and hardworking people that I had ever met, and really inspired me to do great things in my life. If there is ever anything wrong, I know I could count on them to be there for me. I made friendships that I know will last a lifetime.
By; Katalina deLeon’19; Features Editor