Lab work enlightens

Internship helps Carina Sclafani ’20 fine tune pursuit of a career in medicine

Carina Sclafani ’20

Major: Biochemistry

Internship: Greenebaum Cancer Center, University of Maryland

Hometown: Harrison, Maine

Creating a course of action: “I have always been interested in medicine and have been thinking of medical school since I started college, so this internship was great for getting me started on that path. It had both research and clinical components, and that is usually pretty rare in internships. This internship was really important to my educational experience because it provided me with so much knowledge on different scientific subjects and will help me in selecting my courses and internships in the future.”

Full days: “The main focus of this program was on research, so each day I worked on my own project in a lab. There were also weekly lectures, and we had a journal club and did presentations on our readings. We got to meet with doctors as they discussed patients and courses of treatments for them. There were other optional activities as well, including attending the medical school’s open house, going to a professional school fair and meeting with M.D./Ph.D. students to learn about that career path, all of which I decided to attend. At the end of the program I presented my research.”

Personal discoveries: “This internship was really great for finding out what I want, and I’m very grateful for that. I have always liked research and being a part of it, but it was really different doing that full time, and having experiences shadowing physicians. I learned that I want that direct patient contact that doctors have. I want to be a clinical physician, rather than researcher in the lab.”

Overcoming challenges: “There was one week this summer when nothing was working, everyday something different went wrong, at different points in the experiment. It was really hard to keep going and trying it again and again, and eventually it worked. Finally getting to that point where it worked was a relief, and also so exciting. I remember seeing that it had worked. I called my research mentor and told her and she was also very excited and we were both running around excited about it. Holding onto that feeling is how you overcome the challenges. Science and research is hard, and hardly ever goes right the first time, but knowing it will work eventually is what helped me overcome many challenges.”

Dress rehearsal: “One of my favorite moments was when I was shadowing a surgeon. I was with another intern, and it was both of our first times shadowing in the OR. We had to wear scrubs and masks and we were both so excited to be there. We were taking pictures in our scrubs because we both want to become physicians and for some reason being in scrubs made us really excited about it. There was something about wearing scrubs and being in the OR for the first time that really made me feel like one day this could be me.”

Well prepared: “All of my science courses really helped prepare me for this internship, especially the lab portions of the classes. I learned most of the skills I needed for this internship, or at a good set of skills to start with.”

Carina Sclafani ’20 plays the violin in the symphony orchestra, is a preceptor and a member of May Fellows, Weiss Women, the Pre-Health Society and the American Medical Women’s Association. She is involved in research in the Chemistry Department with Professor Hilary Gaudet, and previously has worked with Professor Matthew Evans. She also teaches an weekly organic chemistry review session.

(Photo by Mark Teske, courtesy University of Maryland)

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