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A medical career is years away for Stacey Cromer ’05 (Dillsburg, Pa.) and Mara Shainheit ’03 (Hainsport, N.J.), but already the two have observed surgical procedures and helped treat patients courtesy of Lafayette’s alumni externship program.

This January, Cromer, Shainheit, and about 200 other Lafayette students served two- to five-day externships with Lafayette alumni and others who are seasoned professionals in business, the arts, education, healthcare, law, engineering, science, government, non-profits, and other fields. The students shadowed the professionals at their workplaces, learning about careers they may consider entering after college, developing professional networking contacts, and building their resumes.

Shainheit and Cromer shadowed Lisa Poritz ’88, assistant professor of surgery at Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Poritz specializes in treating patients with diseases of the colon and rectum, teaches residents and medical students, and conducts basic research on inflammatory bowel disease.

“I had never seen surgery up close before this externship,” says Cromer, a chemistry major. “I observed five procedures. They ranged in length, the longest being three hours. I was also able to talk to an anesthesiologist, the chief resident, and a first-year resident, which was very helpful.”

“This experience gave me a look at how clinical researchers and doctors work together to meet a common goal,” adds Shainheit, a biology major.

The externs toured the laboratories and various operating rooms and spent some time working with patients at the clinic.

“Seeing procedures in the operating room and then spending time at the clinic gave me two different perspectives of medicine,” Cromer says.

Cromer selected this externship because she is considering a career in medicine and wanted to get hands-on experience.

“The experience was definitely helpful,” she says. “It was a side of medicine I was not able to see before.”

A member of tennis club, Cromer is a prospective student host, member of American Chemical Society, and Landis Community Outreach Center volunteer. She lives on the Keefe volunteer floor.

Shainheit, who has always been interested in different aspects of medicine, says externships are a great experience for students. “They provide a different perspective on your major, serve as a networking opportunity, and expand your academic and personal horizons. This externship was very interesting, and I was glad to be a part of it.”

She will attend graduate school to study immunology.

Shainheit conducted an independent study under the guidance of Robert Kurt, assistant professor of biology, that examined the growth rate of T-cells and tumor cells. In particular, she studied how effectively T-cells destroy tumor cells. She also worked with Kurt to explore chemokines, or proteins that increase anti-tumor immunity.

Shainheit is co-captain of the softball team, an immunology lab teaching assistant, and a member of Lafayette Leadership Forum. She also belongs to Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.

Categorized in: Academic News