Maddison Duff

Future Doctor

March 7th 2024


By Maddison Duff

Hi all! I’m Maddison Duff, a 22-year-old Australian medical student who went on my Shadow Doctors In Italy Fellowship Program in June/July of 2022, during my undergraduate degree. I have just started medicine this year (2024), and honestly place much of my continued desire to pursue medicine, knowledge and foundations for this practice on the Shadow Doctors in Italy program. My program took place in Roma, where we were mostly situated at the Universita Campus Bio-Medico Hospital/University.


As a current University of Wollongong Medicine Student, I never thought I’d make it to the point in my life where I could say I was a medical student. This program set me up with imperative skills, knowledge and immersion that has increased my prowess as a medical student. Furthermore, it allowed me to learn about different cultures and people, in a safe and secure manner, through our accommodation and incredible city managers. Being the first Australian student to undertake the program, I was honoured to bring my own culture to the program and allow my peers to learn about Australian healthcare, whilst learning about Italian, American and Canadian healthcare systems from my teachers and peers.

Maddison with her fellow shadowing companions at Campus Bio-Medico in Rome, one of the program's prestigious partner hospitals.

The start of the program set the scene for the whole two weeks – I was met at the Fiumicino airport by Federico, one of our city managers. It was comforting to meet someone on the team from the get-go, as well as meeting some of the other students at this point too. We were taken to our accommodation and allowed to settle in, and then we had a welcome meeting on a beautiful terrace.


On our first day of shadowing, we were accompanied to the hospital by Maria and Federico to allow us to get our bearings. We went on a tour of the hospital and met the head of the hospital. On my very first day, I was able to watch an open hip surgery, where I viewed the removal of a degraded femoral head and see it replaced with an artificial femoral head, which was inserted into the femur of the patient. I was star-struck by this opportunity, and it was just the first day. Over the next few days, I was able to watch more surgeries, including ENT procedures, but the most incredible was two aortic bypass surgeries.

Maddison completed the Pre-Health Program

Rome, Italy

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

I have always been fascinated with the workings of the heart, and so the privilege to watch two open heart surgeries was essentially mind-blowing for me. In one of the surgeries, I was able to go from start to finish with the patients and surgeons, I was even able to speak with the patient prior to his surgery and learn about patient interaction firsthand. The surgeons and the anaesthesiologist were incredible – explaining to me the steps of the surgery, moving me to see better and answering any questions I had. These two days were probably the two days that solidified not only that medicine was for me, but so too was surgery.


During the two-week program, I also saw and shadowed general practice, nutrition/dietician practice and obstetrics. With the general practice, it was fascinating to see how the company Doctors in Italy works, which is as a service for travellers to access medical care whilst in Italy, being able to speak with English speaking doctors. Learning the reasons behind why we were on this shadowing program really brought the whole point of my trip together. At the Universita Campus Bio-Medico we were also taken to their medical school campus and taught how to suture using the resources of the medical students (I felt so special getting to use this equipment).

Maddison took this picture while up close and personal during a hip surgery at Campus Bio-Medico.

Not only was I able to learn about medicine whilst on my shadowing trip, I was immersed in culture and able to learn from my city managers about the Italian way of life. We were treated to many group dinners at varying restaurants, taken to places of interest in Rome and taken on excursions to beautiful landmarks.


Overall, I cannot overstate the importance of undertaking the Shadow Doctors in Italy program in Rome for solidifying and further fuelling my desire to pursue medicine. Not only was I given an opportunity to learn medicine, but I made cross-continental friends and colleagues, learnt about Italian culture and felt so safe whilst doing so. I would recommend this program to anyone who is interested in the medical profession, as it was an unforgettable and meaningful experience.

Afternoons off to explore bella Roma with new friends.

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In the spotlight

Get to know the Doctors in Italy Fellowship Alumni

Gianni Martin Future Veterinarian From Alabama A&M Shadowed Veterinarians in Milan, Italy

Gianni Martin

Alabama A&M University

"I learned about different aspects of veterinary medicine including animal nutrition and behavior, clinical skills, and caretaking"

Nthabeleng MacDonald Future Doctor From Gallaudet University Shadowing Doctors in Rome, Italy

Nthabeleng MacDonald

Gallaudet University

"There are not many deaf doctors in the world right now, and I want to fill that gap"

Eliana Diaz-Aceituno future doctor from James Madison University shadowed doctors in Italy

Eliana Diaz-Aceituno

James Madison University

"In Italy, the doctor and patient have more of a personal relationship than here in the U.S."