|• Winter 2003||Magazine Archive & Search • Muhlenberg Home|
It takes a lot of heart to practice medicine, and after an internship working alongside two Lehigh Valley Hospital heart doctors, Greg Wilsker ’04 can certainly attest to that.
During an internship at LVH in the summer of 2000, Greg became involved in a retrospective study on a new procedure known as “off-pump” surgery, which would ultimately result in his involvement in a paper that was published in the May 2002 issue of Heart Surgery Forum. Greg’s name was impressively the second one listed among a group of four other authors – authors who happened to be experienced and established surgeons.
Greg simply applied for the internship through the hospital, noting that he was particularly interested in cardiology, and he was appropriately paired up with surgeon Michael C. Sinclair, M.D. and cardiologist D. Lynn Morris, M.D.
For the next couple of months, the two physicians would serve as Greg’s mentors as he gained medical knowledge similar to that of a medical school student, even though he was only a junior.
Pretty impressive, huh?
Greg’s role in the study included mainly data collection and observation, but it also gave him hands-on experience in the operating room.
“I was interested in medicine before my internship, but I was not sold on it completely,” says Greg. “I am now still actively working at LVH, and if I had to pick today what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, I would have to say heart surgery.”
Before starting this intense internship, Greg visited the hospital several times to see how things really worked. He says, “I was fascinated with watching the surgeries, and seeing the heart beat the whole time was incredible.”
As with any internship, the object of the experience is to learn the ins and outs of a specific profession to prepare the student for entering that particular field. “Lynn Morris, chief of cardiology, answered any questions I had during and after the many surgeries I stood in on throughout the summer,” Greg recalls.
Greg realized that he had become involved in some pioneering medical research when Sinclair asked him to co-author the paper he and the other doctors were composing called “Coronary Artery Bypass: the Increasing Role of Off-Pump Surgery in a Large Community Hospital.”
In June 2001, it was time for the most heart-stopping moment of all for Greg and his research when he was asked to present the paper along with Sinclair, the lead author, at the Fourth Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society for Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery in Munich, Germany.
Some people might allow such an honor to go to their heads, but Greg seems to take the experience in stride. He was relieved that the conference had a rather casual atmosphere about it.
“There was not too much formal lecturing going on. It was more of a discussion setting, with vendors set up around the room for everyone to get a close-up look at new equipment and speak face to face with the people presenting the papers,” says Greg. “We had the freedom to choose how we wanted to present our papers, so Dr. Sinclair and I did a poster presentation.”
Every night the society sponsored a different social event. Greg adds, “I met so many intelligent people from Japan, Croatia, Turkey, Austria, etc. You name the country, and it was there.”
Greg seemed to appreciate the unexpected freedom he had during his trip. “Dr. Sinclair wanted me to get more out of the trip than just presentations and scientific discussions,” says Greg. “He actually encouraged me to walk around Munich at my leisure for the two days after the initial presentation, so I definitely took advantage of the opportunity.”
These days Greg, a biology major, is enjoying his last years of college at Muhlenberg before heading off to medical school. He tries to spend as much time as he can outside, working at a tree farm in Macungie, because pretty soon most of his time will be spent inside -- the body that is.
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