Four pre-med biology students are getting hands-on experience this summer as part of a pre-medical co-op.
Brooke Maruska '17 has plans to become a pediatric neurologist. However, as a young medical student, she also knows her aspirations could change in the next few years. Her cooperative experience is giving her a real-life look at the many unique aspects of different medical professions – something that may one day help her make important career decisions.
In addition to Maruska, three more pre-med Cobbers are participating in the co-op: Collin Asheim '18, Austin Promersberger '18 and Hunter Smith '18. The program allows students interested in medical school to shadow a variety of physicians working in different private medical practices around the Fargo-Moorhead area.
"We are kind of like 'flies on the wall' and just stand in the room, listen intently to both the patient and physician, and take notes discretely on the side," says Maruska. "After each appointment, we usually go back to the physician's office and reflect."
The students are quickly learning from the experiences. From patient-physician interaction to what doctors do behind the scenes, they are getting to see it all. When Maruska shadowed an optometrist, she learned about digital eye scans and how to read them. Asheim found his experience at a naturopathic medicine practice interesting. He thought it was intriguing to see alternate methods of medical treatment in use and the notable results they yielded.
"Not only does this (experience) help me confirm that I want to be a medical professional, but it also gives me great insight into what practice I might go into and have a true passion for," Asheim says.
For Maruska, her interactions with the physicians she shadowed has been invaluable.
"I have also appreciated getting to know some of the physicians and medical professionals personally because they have offered me the greatest advice that I know for a fact I will use in my future," Maruska says.
After each session, the students are required to journal about what they learned. Over the course of the summer, the students will have completed 120 hours of shadowing. Promersberger notes medical schools like to know their applicants realize what becoming a physician really means and, by the end of the summer, the students will have a better idea of what that is.
"You really don't truly know what a job is like until you spend a day not even doing that job, but just observing that job and imagining yourself in the shoes of the physician," Maruska says. "It has been a great experience so far, and I am very thankful for the opportunity."
Photo: (l-r) Hunter Smith, Collin Asheim, Brooke Maruska and Austin Promersberger