Anecdotes and advice about preparing for a career in health

Tag: Summer

Expanding your Knowledge Base over the Summer

Last summer I participated in the Cohen Children’s Hospital Summer Research Internship Program on Long Island. Many divisions of Cohen Children’s Hospital select from one to four students to participate in a research project for eight to ten weeks over the summer. I worked in the Allergy and Immunology Division, where I performed data collection for two separate studies for half the day, and had the opportunity to shadow doctors in the office for the rest of the day. In doing data collection, I learned how to read patient charts as well as how to understand the indications for many different blood tests and diseases for the studies I was working on: MBL deficiency and rituximab usage.  The Internship Program also provided a weekly lunch and presentation by researchers in the Northwell Health system who discussed the research they were conducting and how they reached their level of expertise in the medical field.  This experience was extremely rewarding, and I encourage anyone interested in medicine to apply to research internships that interest them and will help them expand their knowledge of the field as a whole.  

Brooke Juhel, Class of 2021

Contextualizing Your Growth

            I interned in the Emergency Department of Bellevue Hospital Center in New York City. An ED is a fast-paced environment, constantly evolving with patient needs that are comprehensive in volume and variety, in urgency and complexity. One of my main responsibilities during my internship was to serve as a patient advocate – I had the privilege to comfort patients, converse at length with them, and hear about their life stories. I endeavored to find ways to improve their stay – short or long – and served as a bridge between the patient and provider. In addition to this role, I had to opportunity to learn from attendings and residents. Everyday presented an opportunity to learn, about the science that underpins the practice of medicine but also the humanity that is integral to delivering equitable and patient-centered care.

            My summer internship was intensive in all aspects – in education, emotion, and experience.  It was easy to feel overwhelmed, and I returned to my dorm everyday with countless stories and notes scribbled with medical knowledge I’d learned. For me, journaling during my internship allowed me the opportunity to digest and reflect on each day. By writing it down, journaling allowed me to synthesize the lessons I’d learned. Journaling motivated me to think critically about ways in which I could be a better patient advocate, and gave rise to project ideas that I proposed to my supervisor that would improve the efficiency of the ED. Journaling positioned me to better utilize my internship, ask more effective questions, and better prepare myself for the next day. From a macroscopic level, journaling allowed me to record my experiences and the valuable memories, lessons, and insights I gained from my internship. Writing down these experiences allowed me to reflect and form connections with my studies and research interests. With these reflections, I was able to analyze my experience, and its interactions with my life, learning, and career aspirations.

            When journaling, be consistent. Try to set aside a scheduled time each day (or week) to write. Let your entries be reflective of what you’re learning – about yourself and the internship. Ask yourself about your goals for the internship, what critical issues you witnessed, moral or ethical questions that arose, and reflect on moments where you took charge. Write about how a particular task or project made you feel, whether or not you enjoyed it, and if you can see yourself doing it in the future. Don’t be afraid to soul-search a bit.

Ultimately, make your journal your space to contextualize your growth.

Andrew Hwang, Class of 2022

Reflecting on My Summer Internship

My name is Alexia Soteropoulos, a sophomore from Peabody, MA, planning to major in psychology.  The winter of my freshman year at Tufts, I approached my internship search by talking to family and friends who worked in healthcare or who knew people in health-related settings.  I knew that I wanted to work in a clinical setting because I had worked in labs during previous internships and I wanted different exposure working more directly with patients.  I am also very interested in nutrition, and of course psychology, so I spoke to my cousin who is a dietitian, and this ultimately led me to my internship last summer.

I worked in the Medical Weight Loss Clinic at Lahey Medical Center in Peabody teaching nutrition classes to patients in the program with diabetes, heart disease, and obesity-related conditions. For my classes, I prepared curriculum and materials, conducted food demonstrations, and created customized diet plans, grocery shopping tips and substitutions, and holiday and cooking tips.  I produced many recipes and handouts for the patients in the clinic, and some were used for outside community events sponsored by the hospital.  During the summer I also shadowed the bariatrician (medical weight loss doctor), clinical psychologist, and dietician during patient visits and support groups.


The most important thing I learned during my internship was how to interact with patients with empathy and encouragement.  I also gained a better understanding of the intersection of biology, psychology, and nutrition as these were all aspects of the clinic that impacted patients’ health.  I ended up enjoying the internship so much and I worked very well with the clinicians, that I have continued my internship throughout the year, teaching classes every couple months and I am returning this coming summer.

My one tip is to take advantage of your connections.  Talk to friends and family, even friends of friends. Even if they don’t work in health-related areas, they might know people who do and would be happy to help you find an opportunity.

Alexia Soteropoulos
Class of 2020

Reflecting on My Summer Research Experience

My name is Andrew Nguyen and I am from Champaign, IL. Currently, I am a junior studying Cognitive and Brain Sciences at Tufts with an interest in pursuing a graduate degree in the Neurosciences. This past summer, I worked as an undergraduate research trainee at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to take on my own research project on NASA grants that would allow me to develop new research skills such as MATLAB, and academic paper and poster writing. I was able to shadow professional researchers, participate in journal clubs, and present my research to many health professionals. I spent a lot of time in the fall and over winter break sending emails to potential advisors, searching for funded research opportunities, and reaching out to my advisors for recommendations and advice. Use the resources that are available to you, whether it be the Career Center, personal contacts, advisors, or even the internet to find incredible opportunities that will allow you to develop your skills and explore career paths. Reach out early and have materials readily available to share with programs and advisors so that they can help you.

Andrew Nguyen
Class  of 2019
Cognitive and Brain Sciences

What I Did on my Summer Vacation

Six students shared their experiences from their summer health-related opportunities at our annual panel in early December.

Wilna Paulemon (Child Development, ’18) spent her summer at the University of Michigan Summer Enrichment Program (UMSEP) in Health Management and Policy.  Her tip is to read the Health- E Newsletter because this is where she saw this internship posted.

Andy Nguyen (Cognitive and Brain Science ’19) went to Rwanda with Tufts Hillel for ten days after the end of spring semester.  He then returned to the camp for children with developmental, social, and learning disabilities in Upstate New York called Ramapo For Children where he had worked the previous summer.  Andy’s tip is to be open-minded as you look for opportunities since you might be surprised at how valuable an experience can be.

Madeleine Gene (Biopsych, ’17) worked in staff support in a paid position at Memorial Sloan Kettering  in NYC.  She knew that they hired from a neighbor who worked there.  Her tip is to start looking early during Winter Break so you have time to research and apply.

Sean Boyden (Biology and Community Health, ’17) did research in the Starks lab last summer.  He had experience in the lab earlier and applied with Professor Starks for a Summer Scholars position which he received. Sean’s tip is to not to be afraid to reach out to faculty for research/internship experiences, and to foster a good relationship with your mentors/supervisors as they will be the people you’ll rely on to write your letters of recommendation.

Melanie Ramirez (Biology and Community Health, ’19) did a six week internship known as SMDEP now SHPEP link at UCLA medical school. When she returned home she also worked at a pediatric oncology summer camp .  Her tip is start early and apply to a wide variety of internships so that  you can have more options.

Nellie Agosta (Biology, ’17) developed an opportunity for herself and applied for the Career Center grant  to get paid for it.  She again called a contact that could not help her the previous summer.  This time the contact could help her and referred her to a researcher at Mass General Hospital. Her tip is to be persistent and don’t give up just because you get a no the first time.

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