Hamilton students and the St. Elizabeth Hospital’s Family Medicine residents they shadowed during winter break. At far left is alumna Sujitha Amalanayagam '10.

Over winter break, five Hamilton students had the opportunity to shadow doctors at different stages of their three-year residency in St. Elizabeth Hospital’s Family Medicine Residency program in Utica, N.Y.

In the course of a week, Aliane Douyon ’20, Devin Hebert ’20, Amanda Leonhard ’20, Stephanie Wu ’21, and Elaine Yip ’21 observed residents in different rotations including Ob/Gyn, Internal Medicine, Labor & Delivery, Family Medicine, Geriatrics, and Emergency Care. Exposure to multiple fields of medicine allowed the students to begin deciding which field of medicine in which they are most interested.

Shadowing residents through their rotations offered the students an inside look into the roles and expectations of a doctor. They watched as residents conducted rounds, treated patients, and documented treatments along with other tasks required of doctors in inpatient and outpatient settings. Insight into the daily tasks of residents gave the students the opportunity to see the full range of a doctor’s responsibilities.

Amanda Leonhard benefited from staying nearly 24 hours in the emergency department where she “found [herself] watching the clock—not because [she] wanted to leave, but because [she] wanted to stay.” She said, “It was then I knew that I could see myself doing this as a career.”

Stephanie Wu said the most valuable part “was the diversity of patients and specialties I was able to encounter. They allowed me to compare and contrast my experiences to figure out which aspects of a career in medicine were most important to me and my vision of the future.”

Many of the students were surprised to learn that Utica has one of the nation’s largest refugee populations and found that the experience helped them better understand the struggles refugees and immigrants face while seeking medical care in the U.S.

 “This program opened my eyes to the challenges of administering healthcare in underserved communities and the importance of developing strong patient-physician relationships,” said Elaine Yip.

The program allowed the students to observe and note the vital qualities and skills outside of academia that distinguish a great doctor from a good doctor. As Devin Hebert observed, “positive patient interactions showed me the difference a doctor can make in someone else's world. Conversely, the experience also showed me how it can be difficult as a doctor dealing with tough patients or patients who are living their last days.”

Generally, the students who participated in the program found this week to be beneficial, exposing them to both expected and unexpected experiences. Aliane Douyon summarized her experience saying, “this week showed me many of the challenges of being a doctor, but also the benefits of the work, reinforcing why I was interested in medicine to begin with.”

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