Over winter break, Taylor Brown ’15 (Warren, N.J.) and Barbara Olivier ’16 (Brooklyn, N.Y.) got a taste of what day-to-day life is like in the medical field during an externship with Steven Shankman ’77, vice chairman and program director of radiology at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
While shadowing Shankman, Brown and Olivier observed as he read and interpreted x-rays and MRIs and performed biopsies. They also had the opportunity to speak with interns, residents, and fellows.
“Dr. Shankman did a nice job providing me with exposure to radiology, and medicine in general, from a variety of perspectives,” says Brown, a neuroscience major. “He had me spend a day shadowing a neuroradiologist, which consisted mostly of reading and interpreting brain images. This experience was really eye-opening in the sense that I had the opportunity to see how our working knowledge of neuroanatomy is used and applied in the medical field.”
Olivier is an anthropology and sociology major who hopes to attend medical school and one day join Doctors Without Borders.
“This externship helped me get a broader glimpse of what the life of a doctor is like,” she says. “I learned that being a doctor is not a 9-to-5 job, it’s a 24-hour one. I also realized that the medical field is ever expanding and multiplying. There are many places where I can find my niche. There is no such thing as an unimportant job.”
Olivier also saw the importance of caring for patients.
“Besides learning some basic anatomy, I discovered that being a doctor is a lot more than just memorizing facts, but also being able to make your patients feel safe,” she says. “You have to become two people when you’re a doctor, the scientist and also the humanitarian. But you also realize that those two sides are of the same coin.”
Shankman enjoys teaching residents and medical students and believes that externship experiences through Career Services can be very important for undergraduate students.
“I don’t think everyone gets exposure to the world of medicine and the different fields available,” he says. “I try to give these students a sense of hospital life. The real world of medicine is very different than the one portrayed on television.”
Shankman believes Lafayette’s liberal arts environment helped him be flexible in both his career and life. Although he always knew that he wanted to be a physician like his father, he majored in English and lived for two years in McKelvy House.
“I wanted to follow the medical path, but it was interesting to take courses outside of the field,” he says. “Lafayette gave me the flexibility to explore different subject areas, such as English. I appreciate those experiences, as I don’t have the chance to read like that now.”