October, 19th 2023
Making the decision to join the Doctors in Italy Fellowship Program was certainly not a hard one. Mixing traveling with the medical field? That instantly sounded like the perfect summer for me! In June of 2023 I finally embarked on my journey to Italy to attend the two week shadowing program in Milan. Throughout the course of the program I shadowed for a total of 40 hours between two of Milan’s major hospitals, broadening my horizons in the medical field and immersing myself in a rich cultural experience.
Despite my excitement and eagerness to begin the program, I initially had my concerns; traveling on my own across the world and spending two weeks away from anyone I knew seemed daunting. Secondly, I was very much aware of the fact that I speak zero Italian! How would this affect my travel, and most pertinently my shadowing experience?
I quickly realized that I had absolutely nothing to worry about, and my hesitations were being relieved. As soon as I met my peers in the Milan program I felt at ease. We were constantly engaging in group activities, planning day trips, and initiating conversations over tasty Italian dinners. In such a short amount of time I was able to forge strong connections with my fellow participants that helped me feel like a part of a community away from home.
While shadowing I observed a ton of surgeries, face-to-face patient interactions, and even got to spend time in the neonatal unit working with newborn babies. I was blown away by the professionalism, kindness, and willingness of the physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals I worked with; they were extremely helpful in explaining procedures to me in English and ensuring I was getting the best experience possible.
Outside of the hospital on the weekends, my peers and I would make plans together to see what fun activities we could come up with to do. My favorite experiences were going to Lake Como and Venice for day trips; we saw so many beautiful places and enjoyed the most amazing food together on these trips, especially the gelato!
Overall I am extremely grateful I was able to participate in this program and immerse myself in the Italian healthcare system and culture. Because I have experience growing up in a medically underserved community and working heavily in clinical settings with adjacent communities, I am a huge advocate for cultural humility in the medical field. This is why I feel so passionately about this program and the opportunity it provides students to travel and immerse themselves in a world culture that they may be unfamiliar with.
I believe that my experiences shadowing abroad has strengthened my cultural humility and taken me out of my comfort zone; this will not only aid me in becoming a knowledgeable, culturally-sensitive physician in the future, but it will also aid me in becoming a simply better individual in my present life.
I would like to extend my gratitude to the Doctors in Italy team for providing such an amazing experience. And to my fellow pre-health students, I highly encourage you to participate in this program; if you are looking to increase your cultural awareness, immerse yourself in the medical field, and make some life-long connections, you have found the right place!
Have questions? Connect with our fellows!
Send a question directed to our alumni and you’ll hear back from them.
In the spotlight
Get to know the Doctors in Italy Fellowship Alumni