Opportunity close to home

Justin Gallagher ’19, a neuroscience major, plans to pursue becoming a neurosurgeon in medical school, and is also interested in biology and psychology.

During winter break, he got an opportunity to combine all of his interests and start building the foundation of experience for his career plans by interning at Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleboro, Mass.

During his internship, he helped care for patients within the nursing units and labeled medical records for the Cardiac Rehabilitation Center.

“Aiding in patient care requires a skill set that is a valuable asset to have within the medical field because it requires a high degree of interaction—especially when one becomes a doctor,” he said. “My biggest challenge was simply opening myself up to the patients and having the confidence to aid them in whatever they needed. I overcame it by just being my normal self, and it worked out perfectly.”

Gallagher, who is a pitcher on the varsity baseball team and a member of the Pre-Health Society on campus, noted that his experiences in the classroom as well as on the ball field contributed to his success during this internship.

His biology courses provided him with a familiarity with what he encountered at the hospital on a daily basis and “being a leader and having confidence to aid patients came from my experiences on the varsity baseball team,” he said.

He learned a great deal about communicating efficiently and consistently with patients to understand what they required.

“My favorite moment on the job was one of the interactions I had with an older gentleman who was a patient at the hospital within one of the nursing units. He simply needed a friend to have a conversation with, and we talked for a good amount of time about football and things that related to us. It was a great moment because he seemed very ill, alone and needed someone to talk to him. I am glad I was there to help at the right time. Many people don’t get an opportunity like that.”

This was Gallagher’s first internship. Ben Chalot, associate director of the Filene Center for Academic Advising and Career Services, helped him secure the opportunity by putting the student in contact with the supervisor of student and volunteer services at Sturdy.

Gallagher is one of 26 students who received funding for 2016–2017 Winternships. The Winternship initiative at Wheaton provides stipends for students who want opportunities to have an enriching experience that connects to their academics while earning money during winter break. Funding for the initiative comes from several sources, including the Nancy Lyon Porter ’43 Community Service Fellowship program, the Blakely Fetridge Bundy ’66 Work and Learning Fellowship, and the Talanian Family Work and Learning Fellowship.

“After this internship, I hope to delve deeper into specific departments within neurology,” said Gallagher, who is also in the Wheaton May Fellows program. “This internship has reinforced my decision to apply to medical school and given me great experience working with patients, which I will need.”