A Hospital Fellowship Exposes Undergraduates to What Medicine is Really Like

Christine Jewett ’16 (left), Devon Campbell ’18 (center) and Director of Health Professions Advising Seth Ramus (right)

It’s 8 a.m. and Devon Campbell ’18 and Christine Jewett ’16 are already at work at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Both are assisting gastroenterology research projects, shadowing medical professionals and interacting with patients.

This summer, thanks to the Theodore W. Anastopoulos P’79 Fellowship, the two students are getting a glimpse of what it is like to work and do research at a world-renowned hospital.

This is the third class of Bowdoin students to receive the fellowship, which is funded by Harry T. Anastopoulos ’79 P’14, a gastroenterologist who works at Beth Israel. Dr. Anastopoulos set up the fellowship in memory of his father, beloved cobbler in the city of Lowell, Mass. who believed in education but never had the benefit of finishing high school. Dr. Anastopoulos recalls how his father would “give money out of his own pocket to send promising employees to college.” With this legacy in mind, the Bowdoin alumnus said he wanted to address “a paucity of summer experiences for students interested in medicine.”

Even if students like Campbell and Jewett are certain they want to pursue a medical career, it can be difficult for undergraduates to experience what the field is like. Usually the type of access and exposure necessary to make an informed decision about the career comes much later, during medical school. “It’s easy to say you want to go to medical school and go into medicine,” Dr. Anastopoulos said. “It’s a whole different thing to get exposed and see what it’s like to work in the medical field.”

Dr. Anastopoulos placed Campbell and Jewett with two of his GI colleagues, Dr. Leffler and Dr. Lembo. The hope is that the students find mentors in the medical field, much how Anastopoulos recalls Professor John L. Howland — Josiah Little Professor of Natural Sciences and Professor of Biology and Biochemistry Emeritus — was for him.

Under the guidance of mentors Dr. Daniel Leffler and Dr. Anthony Lembo, both gastroenterologists, Campbell and Jewett are helping with important medical research. Campbell did most of his research at a pain clinic supervised by anesthesiologist​ Dr. Simopoulos. The data he is helping collect looks at patients’ levels of comfort during fluoroscopy procedures. Campbell said this research “could be used to create a more comfortable atmosphere for patients undergoing the procedure.”  Jewett is working on a study to determine the viability of a diagnostic test for irritable bowl syndrome. Dr. Anastopoulos said that “every student who has been with us so far has been an author on a published medical paper,” which is a boon to admission to medical school.

The Anastopoulos fellows are exposed to the daily workings of the hospital, from sitting in on conferences to interacting with patients and doctors. “As someone who’s not yet a med student, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to sit in on discussions and see such a wide range of departments had I not already been employed by the hospital doing research,” Jewett said.

Jewett added that since Dr. Anastopoulos provided the initial connection with the hospital, “I already had a foot in the door, and from there am able to branch off and develop connections with physicians in other fields; I’ve gotten some diverse shadowing and patient experience, which has helped me discover the types of care I prefer, and this has been pivotal to directing my future career,” said Jewett. For her, the experience has opened her up the possibility of working in many different medical fields, adding “I know it’s a long road ahead when picking a path of health care, but after this summer I’m pretty positive it’s what I want to be doing all those years.”

For Campbell, who said he wants to be a pediatrician, the opportunity to work with patients in clinical trials has been particularly important, since he anticipates that this will be a big component of his future career. He added his favorite part of the job has been interacting and talking with patients.

Other Bowdoin students working at hospitals this summer include Nikuradse-Matthews Summer Public Interest Fellow Fatoumate Bah ’17 and Preston Public Interest Career Fund Fellows Mariely Garcia ’17 and Michael Eppler ’17. Bah, Garcia and Eppler are all doing rotations in emergency rooms and other areas in Bellevue Hospital in New York City. Other students include Adam Bakopolus ’16, who is working at Massachusetts General Hospital, Perla Rubi ’17, who is at The Hospital for Sick Children (Sickkids) in Toronto, and Harrison Carmichael ’17, who is also working at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

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