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Talking to Carey Wilson ’07 (Hamilton, N.Y.) and David Albala ’78, professor of urology and director of minimally invasive surgery at Duke University School of Medicine, it’s hard to tell who is more excited about the work they are doing together this summer.

The neuroscience major is gaining hands-on experience at a prestigious medical center under Albala’s supervision. This will be the 12th time Albala works with Lafayette students to help them prepare for medical careers.

Wilson is the recipient of the Class of 1974 Internship Endowment and Class of 2006 stipend, which are helping defray the internship’s educational, transportation, and housing costs.

She and Albala are brimming with enthusiasm, and the experience promises to be an enriching one. Wilson fondly recalls the first time she spoke with Albala about the opportunity.

“I e-mailed him and his first response was, ‘Here’s my phone number – give me a call this weekend; I’ll be home.’ A lot of the top doctors may not have such great social skills and may not be quite as warm as you would like. Dr. Albala seems to have the best of both worlds, so I’m excited to be around him.”

This summer provides Albala the chance to continue a productive tradition with Lafayette students, who have made significant contributions to his practice and research. He uses a “three-pronged approach” to ensure the internship is aggressive and hands-on. Students gain experience in the office, lab, and operating room.

“It’s really interesting that all the Lafayette students who have ever come with me have gotten into medical school – I’m batting 100 percent,” he says. “For people who want to see what medicine is like, it’s a unique opportunity to see things up-front and personal.”

Wilson and fellow interns Osarenomase Egharevba ’07 (Bronx, N.Y.), a neuroscience major, and Anoop Shah ’09 (Tarzana, Calif.) observe the operating room and some of the procedures Duke surgeons perform. They also shadow Albala as he consults with patients, diagnoses their conditions, and explains treatment options.

“I throw a lab coat on them,” he says. “They get a chance to see what it’s like, to see why a decision is made, then getting such-and-such test result and going over the results, then explaining to a patient why we’re going to do a certain procedure. Then they go into an OR.”

The interns accompany Albala on rounds, talking to patients, monitoring recoveries, and discharging them. They also participate in research on both clinical and basic science levels. They test pigs and other animals with new devices and equipment, which is especially important because Albala performs all of Duke’s robotic surgery for cancer patients.

“It’s an opportunity for them to see what academic medicine is like up-front,” he says. “When you get to see young people succeed and get fired up like they do, there’s a great deal of satisfaction in that. That’s incredibly rewarding for me.”

Wilson developed an interest in neurology through a neighbor who is a professor of neuroscience at Colgate University and through her own volunteer work providing equine therapy to children with disabilities. The field’s innumerable possibilities excite her.

“In the relationship I’ve developed with the children, it caused me to start asking questions,” says Wilson, whose primary interest is pediatric neurology. “I just started to become fascinated with the whole idea of it. It’s also a very young field. It’s in its infancy and there are a lot of places I could go with it, a lot of avenues I could take and still be influential in the field.”

Her Lafayette experience has been fulfilling in its classroom offerings and research opportunities.

“I have had some really fabulous experiences in research and in the lab,” she says. “When I talk about the research I’m doing, a lot of people can’t believe I’m still an undergraduate. I definitely made the right decision to come to Lafayette.”

Wilson played the role of Penelope Sycamore in College Theater’s production of You Can’t Take It With You and played varsity soccer for two years. She also is a member of Soccer Club, intramural soccer, and Martial Arts Club. She is a graduate of Hamilton Central School.

Categorized in: Academic News