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Local Students Decide if Medicine is Their Calling at Overlook Medical Center Summer Internship

SUMMIT, NJ AUGUST 2011 – Fifteen college students from the region were chosen to participate in a highly selective summer medical internship led by vascular surgeon and Millburn resident, Clifford Sales, MD, at Overlook Medical Center. The program had twice the number of applicants in its second year and only 20 percent were accepted.

The Overlook Summer Internship Program (OSIP) is designed to expose college students to the health care field. It is designed to give students the opportunity to learn about the human aspects of a career in medicine – something that is not typically available in most settings.

“I truly believe this helps the student considering medicine make a more clear decision about their future,” said Dr. Sales, chief of vascular surgery at Overlook Medical. “We want the students to learn about what it means to become a physician. ‘Can I be a mother and a doctor? Can I coach my daughter’s soccer team if I choose to be a physician?’”

Miguel Sulit, of Basking Ridge and a recent graduate of Rutgers University; Alexander Chartrain, of Westfield and a junior at the College of William and Mary; and David Kreps, of Scotch Plains and a sophomore at Brandeis University, were among the fifteen applicants accepted to the program. They completed the internship along with college students from New Jersey and New York.

The goal of this program is to help students make an informed decision about possibly entering one of the many exciting fields of medicine. Experiences from the program may be valuable throughout the medical school application process.

“I was really excited about the structure of the program – that I would be able to shadow doctors one-on-one in so many different specialties,” says Chartrain, who is majoring in neuroscience at William and Mary. “There aren’t many programs where you can do that as a college student and there isn’t any better way to be exposed to the medical field.”

During daily rotations, the students shadow a medical professional – mostly physicians, but also therapists, administrators, nurses and social workers – who is committed to teaching and sharing their experiences. This gives the student an opportunity to see what life is like in each particular field. Rotations include experience in the operating room, emergency department, hospital floors, physician offices or meetings. Each student has the opportunity to interact on a personal basis with the health care professionals.

Sulit, who already holds a bachelor's degree in psychology and biology, applied to the Overlook Medical program following the advice of his mother.

“I was in a period of my life where I knew I wanted to work in the medical field, and becoming a physician was one of my top choices,” said Sulit. “I was unsure if I wanted to take the leap into applying for medical school because of my lack of real exposure to the career. I thought the Overlook Medical program would give me exactly what I needed,” adds Sulit.

Sulit considers himself a visual learner and likes to work with his hands, so he took a particular interest in surgical sub-specialties. When asked about his most memorable experience at Overlook Medical, he recalls a patient who was an elderly lady with several months to live because of her advanced cancer. Sulit accompanied an interventional radiologist who was draining fluid from her abdominal cavity. While she was on the procedure table, she began to talk about her life. It turned out she was a professional singer in the south in the 1950s and 1960s.

“She sang for us, and her voice was beautiful,” recalls Sulit.

“I was also fortunate enough to shadow Dr. Lopes and his colleague, Dr. Feteiha, during my rotation in bariatric surgery. They performed all of their procedures laparoscopically, and the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass was one of the most awesome things I’ve ever seen,” claims Sulit.

Each day, Monday through Thursday, begins with a one-hour breakfast discussion led by a professional who discusses his or her field. The focus of this group is on the lifestyle and the pros and cons of each field. Thereafter, each student reports to an assigned mentor in the setting thought to be most appropriate for the student’s experience. Each day is structured by the mentor and each day is very different.

Fridays conclude with a lunch session designed to exchange ideas with fellow students about their current experiences and discuss topics of interest to the group.

Kreps, who is pursuing a degree in health science, society and policy, says watching a birth by cesarean section was something he never expected to experience until he became a father.

“It was amazing watching the beginning of life,” says Kreps.

While no one in Kreps’ family works in the health care field, he has always wanted to pursue medicine and the Overlook Medical internship affirmed his interest.

Chartrain valued all of the mentors he had, stating each one taught him something new and different in their own way.

On the last day of his program, Chartrain was shadowing Dr. Russell Hoffman, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Overlook Medical, on the labor and delivery unit. Chartrain was present during the woman’s labor process and unexpectedly, Dr. Hoffman ordered Chartrain to don a gown and gloves, saying, “You’re going to be next to me as I deliver this baby.” Stunned and excited, Chartrain “assisted” Dr. Hoffman in catching the baby.

“There really is nothing more amazing than bringing a new life into the world, and being a part of that was undoubtedly the most memorable experience I had in the program,” says Chartrain.

His experience at Overlook Medical was confirming.

“Any doubts that I had about medicine being my career path have disappeared,” he says. “I am completely sold on the fulfillment health care professionals get from their work and the positive impact they can have on the lives of people who are at their most vulnerable (point in their lives).”

“I started the program interested in surgery,” says Chartrain. “But that was before I got the chance to spend days observing physicians in specialties I hadn’t even considered. After completing the program, I would choose oncology, surgery, or cardiology. As a result of the program, I have come to realize that the most important thing I can do is keep an open mind about the specialty I would like to pursue,” adds Chartrain.

“Honestly, every day had something surprising, but seeing the hospital function as a living, breathing entity takes the cake,” says Sulit. “Collaboration between staff, especially between different specialties, to heal a patient requiring attention from multiple disciplines seems like an incredible challenge. The fact that this is done every day with every patient, in a hospital where there can be hundreds of patients at any given time blew me away,” he adds. “It’s unfortunate that many patients and their respective families cannot appreciate the sheer amount of teamwork and effort it takes to get someone well.”

Sulit’s mother was right. Sulit was greatly influenced by his experiences, especially in surgical sub-specialties, at Overlook Medical and plans to push forward in pursuing a career in medicine.

Students must have completed at least one year of college to apply to the Overlook Summer Internship Program. Consideration will be given to class level and academic standing. All participants are provided with a letter of recommendation for future career and education use.

For information about applying to the program in 2012, please call 908-522-5926 or click here >

About Atlantic Health System
Atlantic Health System is one of the largest non-profit health care systems in New Jersey, comprised of Morristown Medical Center, Overlook Medical Center in Summit and Newton Medical Center. The three medical centers – all accredited by The Joint Commission – have a combined total of 1,308 licensed beds and more than 2,750 affiliated physicians providing a wide array of health care services to the residents of Northern and Central New Jersey. Specialty service areas include advanced cardiovascular care, pediatric medical and surgical specialties, neurology, orthopedics, and sports medicine. Each of these programs has earned top ratings and recognitions in their respective fields. Atlantic Health System is the official health care partner of the New York Jets and an official health care provider of the New Jersey Devils.

Morristown Medical Center’s Gagnon Cardiovascular Institute performs more heart surgeries than any other hospital in New York or New Jersey, and is one of 20 facilities across the country to perform catheter-based repair and replacement of valves on both sides of the heart. Atlantic Health System’s spine program – where surgeons perform more spine surgery than anywhere else in New Jersey – is one of just 13 hospitals across the country that has received the Gold Seal of Approval™ from The Joint Commission, achieving Disease-Specific Care Certification for cervical and lumbar spine treatments. With the Atlantic Neuroscience Institute based at Overlook Medical Center, the hospital serves as the hub for the New Jersey Stroke Network, and serves about 40 percent of the state’s stroke patients. The system’s Goryeb Children’s Hospital offers more than 100 board-certified physicians in 20 pediatric specialties. Morristown Medical Center is verified as a Level I Regional Trauma Center by the American College of Surgeons and designated a Level II by the state of New Jersey.

Atlantic Health System has been chosen for the past three consecutive years by FORTUNE® as one of the magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For®.” The organization has also been recognized four times by AARP as one of the “Best Employers for Workers over 50.” Inside Jersey magazine partnered with Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. and ranked Morristown Medical Center as the No. 1 hospital in New Jersey and the No. 1 hospital for treatment of heart failure and coronary surgery in the state. The survey findings also establish Overlook as No.1 for the treatment of neurological disorders and No. 2 for stroke treatment in NJ. Atlantic Health System is a Major Clinical Research Affiliate with The Cancer Institute of New Jersey and is the primary academic and clinical affiliate in New Jersey of Mount Sinai School of Medicine and The Mount Sinai Hospital.

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Morristown Medical Center

100 Madison Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07960

Overlook Medical Center

99 Beauvoir Avenue
Summit, NJ 07901

Newton Medical Center

175 High Street
Newton, NJ 07860

Chilton Medical Center

97 West Parkway
Pompton Plains, NJ 07444

Hackettstown Medical Center

651 Willow Grove Street
Hackettstown, NJ 07840

Goryeb Children's Hospital

100 Madison Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07960

Affiliated Providers

Atlantic Medical Group

More than 900 health care