Gillian Gaynor

Future Doctor

September, 21st 2023


Article credits

University of Notre Dame

By Elizabeth Prater

Gillian Gaynor ’24 is a biochemistry major with a neuroscience and behavior concentration. Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she spent the past summer working for a hospital in Genoa, Italy through the organization Doctors in Italy.


Through the program, she says she shadowed various different specialties such as pathology, anesthesiology, surgery, gynecology, pharmacy, orthopedics, and the ICU.


While Gaynor was able to complete a lot of shadowing hours, she says that, “even more than that, it was really cool to see how their approach to patient care is in Italy.” 

Gillian left, in the OBGYN department with the doctors and nurses post C-section.

Before going to Italy in the summer, she participated in the year-long Oxford program through Notre Dame Study Abroad.


“When I was at Oxford, I also volunteered at a hospital in England,” says Gaynor. “So I thought it’d be interesting to get another perspective on a different healthcare system.”


She noted that the most salient difference between the hospital systems in the U.S. and Europe was laws governing insurance.

Gillian completed the Pre-Health Program

Genoa, Italy

  • 20+ clinical shadowing hours per week
  • Discover 4+ different specialties
  • See how healthcare is practiced IRL
  • 24-hour on-site support

As Gaynor ended her Oxford program in June, she found herself struggling to find opportunities that fit within her summer timeline as the Oxford term ends later than Notre Dame’s schedule. She found Doctors in Italy through an email that an advisor had sent a year or two previously and discovered that it worked with her needs.


The structure of the program consisted of starting her day at 7:00 a.m. shadowing at the hospital and ending around 2:00 p.m., allowing for time to explore Genoa.


“The program had a lot of built-in excursions,” says Gaynor, sharing what she did during her free time during the program. From participating in history classes to interacting with locals to visiting Portofino, she explored Italian culture when she wasn’t at the hospital.

Gillian on a shadowing rotation at the hospital.

As for next steps, Gaynor plans to attend medical school. She will take a gap year after graduating from Notre Dame this May, as she didn’t want to spend her Oxford term studying for the MCAT. She is now preparing her application to medical schools by January.


At Notre Dame, Gaynor has taken advantage of her time on campus to get involved in a number of activities. She has been involved in the American Medical Women’s Association, Chemistry and Biochemistry Club, Women’s Boxing Club, and is a former resident of Breen-Phillips Hall. She says her Notre Dame experience has been the right mix of academics and extracurriculars. 


“I genuinely think we have some of the best professors out of any of the colleges,” says Gaynor. “It’s really unique to have a school that is renowned academically, but also has such a great community.”

Gillian tours the historic Galliera hospital, complete with frescoes.

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

Anika Rao

Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine

"Italy. Animals. Sounds like my kind of thing"

Kate Bouchillon Future Doctor From Auburn University Shadowed Doctors in Rome, Italy

Kate Bouchillon

Auburn University

"Their focus on taking care of the person as a whole, physically and mentally, was eye-opening"

Jared Baltz Future Veterinarian From Arkansas State University Shadowed Veterinarians in Rome, Italy

Jared Baltz

Arkansas State University

"the experience showed me proper care for various species and practices for being safe around these large animals"