October, 19th 2023
In May 2023 I traveled to Milan, Italy for two weeks for a Doctors in Italy Fellowship. The Doctors in Italy Program allows students to complete a shadowing fellowship for pre-medical and pre-veterinary students who hope for a career in medicine. Fellows are able to shadow a variety of different medical specialties of their interest, as well as broaden their lens by shadowing specialties that they may not have even considered.
The overall experience for me was amazing, definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. As someone whose family is from Italy, I was excited to see what the life of an Italian looks like in regard to getting access to healthcare. A large concern that a lot of my peers had was with the language barrier. Rest assured, most of the doctors that I interacted with spoke English. The doctors that I shadowed always made it a point to translate all of the necessary patient interactions that we had.
The doctors, and most if not all of the patients, were excited to have students learning in the room so I never felt out-of-place. Even during surgical procedures, the doctors made sure to explain each step and encouraged us to truly comprehend what was going on. I truly believe that my experience would not have been as profound if not for the amazing doctors that Doctors in Italy connected me with.
Being able to watch how the doctors interacted with their patients had a major impact on my personal growth. It is very important to take the time to explain to the patient everything that is being done and answer any and all questions that they might have. A very important part of patient care is establishing a good relationship with the patient.
Throughout my two weeks I was able to shadow in the fields of nephrology, cardiology, ophthalmology, retinal ophthalmology, and endocrinology; some of which I had an interest in, and others I had never even thought about. Going into the program, I had my eye on ophthalmology, and I had the opportunity to shadow multiple different ophthalmologists in a variety of fields, both surgical and clinical. I even met a doctor who was able to connect me to doctors to shadow in the U.S.
My only major concern going into the program was where I would be living for two weeks. Doctors in Italy provided us with housing in an unbeatable location. We were located very close to the center of Milan, and right near a metro station so we could get to anywhere we wanted. Everyone in my group was together and we formed a very tight knit group. Doctors in Italy did a phenomenal job at finding an optimal location for us to live!
Milan is one of the most vibrant cities in all of Italy. After our designated shadowing hours, we had the rest of the day to ourselves to explore. Doctors in Italy did provide some activities to do as a group including a day excursion to Lake Como, which was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. We were also provided with metro passes so we could go anywhere in the city for free!
Overall, this experience was one of the best choices I have ever made. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I will forever be grateful to Doctors in Italy. I encourage everyone to step outside of their comfort zone and immerse yourself in the Italian culture.
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