'Berg student gets up close and personal with medical fields in Italy

Being a doctor is the only thing Courtney Temple has ever seen herself doing. Her experience shadowing physicians in an international setting, coupled with early acceptance into a medical school already, has only cemented her goal.

A junior biology major, Courtney spent July 31-August 14 participating in the Doctors in Italy Fellowship Program in Rome, a physician-led medical internship experience that allows participants to be in the middle of the action, exploring the possibilities of a career in health care.

She was joined by college students from other U.S. universities at the Campus Bio-Medico University Hospital in Rome, one of the few that has Joint Commission International accreditation and is fully compliant with the Association of American Medical Colleges. Doctors in Italy offers more than 20 areas of medical/surgical specialties. Fellowship students receive academic credit as well as valuable shadowing hours.

Busy days of observing

Each day, from 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Courtney shadowed a physician in a different specialty, observing the work of surgeons and doctors in anesthesiology, cardiology, gynecology, internal medicine, oncology and orthopedics. 

Although all of the physicians are English-speaking, they conducted their meetings and patient rounds in Italian and translated for the students who accompanied them. A “cheat sheet” the students received also helped with communication.

“We would start off each day doing rounds with the doctors, and then in the afternoon, head into surgery,” Courtney explains. “We were able to stand right next to the doctors doing surgery. The doctors were really good about being present with us as they went.”

Courtney is already accepted to the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine following completion of her undergrad degree at Heidelberg, so she planned to use her four years at Heidelberg to finalize her area of specialty.

Already leaning toward oncology based on her cancer genetics course at the Berg, the experience with Doctors in Italy not only helped her narrow her specialty to anesthesiology or oncology, but it “sealed the deal for me.” 

“The best part, being inside the hospital, was being able to see as much as I did. It definitely helped me figure out where I see myself.”

She plans to pursue oncology as a specialty. 

“Everyone has a cancer story,” Courtney says. “If I can be a part of helping a family, that would be great.”

Discovering gorgeous Italy

When the students’ time at the hospital concluded each day, they were free to explore Italy. Courtney took advantage of that opportunity to check out all of the sights and cuisine of the city. She also was able to spend a weekend in Sorrento.

Other benefits included connecting with a former exchange student her family hosted in 2019, and building friendships with students from other U.S. colleges and universities.

Medical shadowing … a unique international experience … a chance to experience a different health care model. The fellowship that she learned about from her participation in the SCRUBS group at Heidelberg has brought Courtney one step closer to her goal to become a physician.

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