My name is Meredith Wagner and I am a neuroscience major in the class of 2020 at Skidmore. This summer I have been shadowing with the neurosurgical team at Crouse Irving Hospital in Syracuse, New York.
This past year I have been trying to figure out what path I would like to pursue after graduating with a neuroscience degree. In the spring of 2018 I began searching for summer internships in fields that I thought I was interested in. I came across many possible opportunities, including some in research facilities, hospitals, and medical malpractice law firms. Realizing that many of these opportunities are unpaid, I applied for the Summer Experience Fund Award as well. After exploring many different options, I decided to pursue the shadowing internship at Crouse Irving Hospital with their neurosurgical team.
I began my internship at Crouse in early June. My days at the hospital begin at 7:00am for the morning report, where the neurosurgical physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and doctors from the night shift update the staff coming in to work during the day on the status of patients. After the morning report, many of the patients need to be seen by the physician assistants or nurse practitioners. As a shadowing intern, I am able to go with the neurosurgical staff to see patients, who are mostly in the neuro intensive care unit. Most days there are also surgeries scheduled. These surgeries can range from removing brain tumors, craniotomies, treating strokes, digital subtraction angiographies (DSA), treating subarachnoid hemorrhages, to performing spinal disk decompressions or replacements. So far, I have been able to watch many different surgeries including an awake craniotomy and a transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) from the operating room. I was able to scrub in on one operation to get an even better view of the patient too. Much of the day at the hospital is also spent monitoring patients’ statuses, including their many medications and neurological states. Another part of the neurosurgical staff’s job is to respond to emergency calls from the emergency department of the hospital. Because Crouse has earned a Comprehensive Stroke Center certification, many calls from the emergency department are for stroke rescues that have been brought to the hospital by ambulance. Other calls from the emergency department are often for patients with pain that may be related to a spinal injury of some kind.
Soon after I began shadowing at Crouse Irving Hospital, I realized that I enjoyed the more hands on treatment and care of patients, as opposed to a more research oriented setting. Because of this valuable experience, I have decided that I would like to pursue becoming a physician assistant. Shadowing at Crouse, which was possible because of the Summer Experience Fund, has helped me to narrow the career path I would like to take after Skidmore as well as allowed me to gain some clinical experience. This clinical experience will be especially helpful in the future, because most physician assistant programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed before entering the program. I am extremely grateful for this experience and would recommend to all my peers that pursuing an internship, even if you are not sure of your career path, is a great idea because you might end up discovering something you love to do!