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The Doctor's In (Training)


Nothing could have prepared Vince Sorrentino ’20 for what it was like to work in a hospital: grumpy patients, serious wound care, and lots of bodily fluids.

It was an up close and personal look at hospital work for a student on the job—shadowing and volunteering at SUNY Upstate Medical University. “Some days I’ll come in and the nurse I’m working with has a relatively easy group of patients. On those days, I’m helping them pass medications, take vital signs, and turn over rooms,” said Sorrentino. “Other days are way more hectic and we’re dealing with incredibly demanding work.”

Sorrentino is one of seven Hamilton students participating in a summer program with SUNY Upstate.

As the Residency Program director and vice chair for education at Upstate, Stephen Knohl ’93 was looking to create more hands-on opportunities for pre-med students in the world of medicine. Along with Leslie Bell, the director of health professions advising at Hamilton’s Career Center, Knohl created a partnership between Hamilton and SUNY Upstate. For this partnership, seven Hamilton students are spending the summer volunteering at University Hospital, providing clinical support and shadowing the doctors.

I hope students will gain exposure to all aspects of patient care that will excite their minds, motivate them to work harder, and foster relationships that will lead to mentorship.

Hamilton student participants were: Christian Albino ’21, Alex Blomfield ’20, Shaqulle Levy ’20, Gabriel Linden ’20, Amanda Nuth ’21, Vince Sorrentino ’20 and Susanna Yee ’19.

This is the inaugural year for the four-week summer program, but Knohl hopes to expand the program for the years to come.

“As a Hamilton alum and a faculty member at Upstate Medical University, it only seemed appropriate to develop a relationship between the two institutions,” he said. “I hope students will gain exposure to all aspects of patient care that will excite their minds, motivate them to work harder, and foster relationships that will lead to mentorship.”

This shadowing experience has given Sorrentino a better look behind the scenes at what doctors and nurses do every day. “While it definitely fed into my excitement and interest in medicine, it also put a realistic spin on working in healthcare. For me, that ’s really invaluable when it comes time for me to decide what I want my future career to look like,” he said.

Alex Blomfield ’20 expressed a similar appreciation for the nurses with whom she worked. She was surprised—and inspired—by their dedication on the job. “Even with only one or two patients to take care of, they are constantly changing and administering medications, taking blood for labs, and repositioning patients, just to name a few of their daily tasks. The nurses I work with are so incredibly knowledgeable and dedicated, there ’s rarely a problem they can’t solve,” she said.

As a volunteer, Blomfield assists the nurses in the Medical ICU with bathing patients, moving them from bed to chair, and repositioning them in bed to avoid pressure wounds. She says this experience has set her on the path towards a medical career. “This has definitely cemented my passion for medicine,” she said. “Being in a teaching hospital can be overwhelming at times, but the level of compassion and dedication I ’ve seen from the nurses and residents is really empowering.

This was my first opportunity to shadow, but because of this, I want to continue working until one day I can be the one that is shadowed.

Another participant, Christian Albino ’21, enjoyed the challenge of shadowing the doctors at the hospital. “Every now and then the doctor would ask us a question like: ‘What’s the difference between homeostasis and equilibrium?’ just to keep us on our toes. Though the doctors have years of experience behind them, they’re still humble and there to help us learn.”

This experience has made Albino more determined than ever to make this his career. “I’m here to soak up all the knowledge that I can,” he said. “This was my first opportunity to shadow, but because of this, I want to continue working until one day I can be the one that is shadowed.”

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