Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Rebecca Sieburth

Major: I’m a studio art major, and I’m also focusing on courses that will prepare me for medical school. This combination  seems like the best way to reconcile my often-feuding loves of art and science. I’ve always loved art, but medicine seems like a field that is rewarding and challenging in a way that few other disciplines are.

Wide interests: I’m a writing tutor, I’m an EMT, I write poetry, and I play the saxophone. I was in the Wheaton Jazz band for a year.

In the studio: I enjoy any kind of art that involves working with my hands. I started making pottery at 11 and never stopped. I also enjoy sculpting, drawing, painting and printmaking. My most recent project is a clay bust of Lil’ Wayne.

In the operating room: I participated in a summer internship with the Michael E. DeBakey Surgery Program at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. This internship effectively lets you be a medical student on a surgery rotation for eight weeks–you round with the residents, scrub in, and sometimes even get to assist with operations. It’s very surgery-oriented, and I loved that. Surgery, to me, is the most art-oriented medical specialty out there. I was excited to put that notion to the test. I was assigned to the vascular surgery team at the VA hospital in Houston, and while I expected long hours and interesting experiences, I really had no idea what I was in for.

Scrubbing in: Rounds began at 6 a.m. every day, and it was my job to carry medical supplies and assist with bandaging. The operating theatres started up at 7:30, so as soon as rounds were over it was time to head to OR 4 and either observe or scrub in on the day’s vascular surgery cases. Most of the ORs at the VA were in the same area, so it was easy to just walk next door and see anything from a brain surgery to a breast reduction. While it was amazing to be able to see such a wide variety of procedures, watching an operation is nothing compared to scrubbing in on one. I got to assist, in small ways, with leg bypasses, amputations, arteriovenous fistulae, femoral endarterectomies, endovascular catheterizations/stenting, and (my favorite) carotid endarterectomies.

Payoff: This internship offered me an all-too-brief experience of both life in surgery and life in Houston. The caliber of clinical experience I got through this internship was phenomenal, and I got to work with funny, awesome, brilliant people every day. I have never been more sleep-deprived in my life, but never was I happier to be so.

–Interview by Betsy Meyer ’14