Students Get a Dose of Medical Experience

During the Rider Hospital Intern Program, students shadow physicians, nurses and paramedics at various Capital Health locations, including the new Capital Health Medical Center-Hopewell.
Thursday, January 19, 2012

Joyce Suarez ’13 always knew he would pursue a medical career. He just was not exactly sure what field to consider. Recently, the Behavioral Neuroscience major had a chance to explore the varied facets of the profession during a unique shadowing program.

As part of the two-week BIO 210: Rider Hospital Intern Program, during the January term, Suarez was one of the 11 undergraduate students who had a chance to shadow physicians, nurses and paramedics during daily rotations at various Capital Health locations, including the new, state-of-the-art Capital Health Medical Center – Hopewell. The program is designed to help students like Suarez learn more about careers in health care to determine whether to apply to medical school

“Through the different rotations, I thought this internship would actually guide me somewhere,” said Suarez, a student in The Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program. “I realized that I don’t want to be a paramedic because of the long hours and the pay. I prefer the hospital setting more.”

In fact, the West New York, N.J., native now has his sights on a career in obstetrics after witnessing the delivery of twins during one of his rotations in the new Josephine Plumeri Birthing Center at Capital Health Medical Center – Hopewell. “It’s such a great thing, bringing a new baby to life,” he said.

The Rider Hospital Intern Program dates back to the late 1960s when Dr. Thomas C. Mayer, professor emeritus of Biology, started the program at Helene Fuld Medical Center (now Capital Health Regional Medical Center) and at St. Francis Medical Center. Dr. Bryan Spiegelberg, assistant professor of Chemistry and chair of the Premedical Studies Committee, currently runs the program.

During the two-week program, students are asked to write a brief summary of their day in a discussion board on Blackboard in order to allow their classmates to learn about a specific rotation before they begin. They also describe one or two of the day’s memorable experiences and reflect on their feelings. At the end of the course, students are required to write a thesis about a pressing problem facing health care based on readings and their field experience.

“Our hope is that the students use this as a stepping stone in order to get more experience during the rest of their studies at Rider through other field experiences and internships,” Spiegelberg said. “Shadowing is a big part of medical school. The students can use this field experience on their résumés and applications.”

This year, the students’ experience was enhanced with the much anticipated addition of the 223-bed Capital Health Medical Center – Hopewell, which features high-level specialized medical services, such as neurosciences, digestive health, advanced orthopedic services, oncology, Cyberknife radiosurgery, daVinci robotic surgery, reconstructive surgery and specialized pediatric emergency care. Describing the soothing colors and hotel-like interior of the new facility, Nancy Schlitter, the director of volunteer services at Capital Health, said the hospital was designed to enhance “healing with ambiance,” because studies have shown people heal faster when they are calm.

“The employees were looking forward to the Rider students being here and seeing our top notch equipment. They are proud of the new hospital,” Schlitter said. “I think the hospital program gives a really good glimpse into where medicine is and where it’s going.”

Students participating in this year’s program also include Tanique Adams ’13 of Matawan, N.J., a Behavioral Neuroscience major; Patricia Ashmore ’12 of Sparta, N.J., a Biology major; Anna Cymerman ’13 of Lawrenceville, N.J., a Behavioral Neuroscience major; Justin Esteban ’14 of Bethel, Conn., a Biology major; Scott Hyppolite ’14 of Hamilton, N.J., a Biochemistry major; Sarah Harris ’14 of Linden, N.J., a Biology major; Elizabeth Tkaczynski ’13 of Bridgeton, N.J., a Biology major; Jaclyn Valler ’13 of Dayton, N.J., a Behavioral Neuroscience major; Jessica Kluewer D’Amico ’12 of Jamison, Pa., a Liberal Studies major; and Steve Murkli ’14 of Trenton, a Biology major.

The program has been sponsored through generous support of two New Jersey corporations, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Becton-Dickinson, whose funding is provided through the ICFNJ (The Independent College Fund of New Jersey) of which Rider University is a member.

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Joyce Suarez ’13 (far left) participates in the Rider Hospital Intern Program at Capital Health Medical Center – Hopewell.