This past summer I had the amazing experience of becoming one of the pre-medical surgical students at the Surgical Internship and Mentorship (SIMP) Program at the UC Davis Health Center. This program is one of the most competitive pre-medical programs in our country and is here in Sacramento, close to our community college. It is open to a wide array of pre-medical students from community colleges, graduate schools to even High School students. People from all over the country apply for a spot.
I started my application for the Summer Cycle 2014, on November 2013, which might seem well in advance, but I had just enough time to gather all the requirements.
I began by talking with my professors about my interest in the program and the possibility of having a letter of recommendation written for my application.
After being accepted into the program, I began preparing for the surgical internship in terms of learning policies, and rules about the UC Davis Medical Center (UCDMC). I made sure I read and re-read the SIMP handbook, since the program is very rigorous and I wanted to be ready and informed for the tasks that lay ahead.
My first two days at SIMP were spent at the "Surgical Academy", which is an anatomy and physiology bootcamp. We received several lectures from attending surgeons, residents, and medical students. We covered the whole human body in two days. The sort of material taught was engaging, the amount of material was challenging.
The next step was signing up for shifts. Since I was part of the summer cycle we were required to have a minimum of two shifts per week, and one of those shifts had to be during a weekday. My signing up went smoothly and I was ready to follow the teams of vascular surgery, plastic surgery, ear-nose-throat surgery, and surgical oncology, between others.
The day before my first shift I paged the residents around 6:00 pm. I waited by the phone for my call back and to my surprise it took no longer than two minutes. The resident instructed me with the floor and the room where "rounds" start and asked me to be there at 5:00 am. I was thrilled and nervous about my first shift, because I did not want to make any mistakes but at the same time I wished to make the most of my shift.
The next day I woke up at 3:10 am. I got ready in 40 minutes and left home at about 4:00 am. As I drove in the early morning, it was dark still, and the streets were empty.
As I arrived to UCDMC I used the little map of the hospital to find the elevators and found the conference room where the team met. All the medical students and residents were busy working on their notes. I was not sure if I was in the right place, but as I introduced myself one of the residents, told me it was Vascular Surgery. I was super excited, I had arrived and I was ready to absorb all the knowledge that these physicians and future physicians in training would share with me.
*Andrea Kulinich now attends University of California at Davis, majoring in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior *