SFS 2018 Is Off to a Great Start!

The first Brooks student to begin her Students on the Forefront of Science internship this summer dove right in last Monday.

"I saw 52 patients – and that was only day one!" marveled Charlotte Marks '19, who is interning at Tufts Medical Center in Boston with orthopedic surgeon Dr. Charles Cassidy '79. "I'm loving my experience so far."

For the next month, Marks will trade her summer down-time for sessions in the operating room while she shadows Cassidy, a specialist in hand, elbow and upper extremity surgery, upper and lower extremity trauma reconstruction, and management of acute skeletal trauma. Cassidy has served as a mentor in the Students on the Forefront of Science (SFS) program for the past nine years.

"I have really enjoyed listening to what the patients have to say, and am simply in awe of how Dr. Cassidy takes his time to really listen to what the patient is dealing with in order to make sure he has the whole story before he prescribes a treatment plan," said Marks.

In little more than a week, the fifth-former from Manchester, Mass. has observed 10 surgeries, each a different type from the other. "My favorite so far was a humerus fracture that was fixed with a surgery called an 'open reduction and internal fixation,' which is basically when they use plates and screws to realign the bone," she said. "It's truly amazing to get to watch so up close. Dr. Cassidy invites me to stand right next to him and the medical student or fellow."

As a result, Marks reports that many assume she is much older than her 16 years. "I've only been asked if I'm in med. school about six times," she joked. "It's fun to respond with, 'Nope, I'm actually in high school.'"

Visit Brooks School's Students on the Forefront of Science internship program page to learn more about the impressive opportunities and hear from students who've participated.

Getting unique hands-on experience typically not an option for students until college is a hallmark of the SFS program – which seeks to expose students to research, technology and advanced studies in the sciences – currently in its 13th year.

Ten rising sixth-formers will seize the opportunity this year, interning at Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Apple Computer, as well as Tufts Medical Center.

Learn about last year's SFS interns and their "awesome" experiences in labs and hospitals in our News Story.

In all of these internships, though, students ultimately only get out what they put in, according to SFS program director Mary Jo Carabatsos P'17, P'20, a science teacher and dean of teaching and learning. The fact that one recent participant, Caroline Saef '17 (shown below), is back interning at her SFS post Massachusetts General Hospital during her college break this summer is just one example of the lasting benefit interns can enjoy.

"SFS opens the door for students, but they have to step through it and ask questions and be curious," said Carabatsos. "Each intern has to be motivated take initiative and act independently to ensure that they get the full benefit of the opportunity."

Marks, for one, is already making the most of her internship this year. "It's really the life of a surgeon that Charlotte is living right now," said Carabatsos. "And the best part is the unscripted things she's learning as she watches Dr. Cassidy with patients and hears his conversations with them. Those are things you can't learn in a book or in the classroom."

When Marks first applied to participate in SFS, she reflected, "I hoped that I would be able to see what it is really like to be a surgeon and figure out some aspects that I enjoy, but also some that I don't like as much in order to figure out what I might want to major in in college." Now one week into her internship she revealed, "I've learned about several more health professions that I had no idea existed. It's a good thing that I have a couple more years to decide what I actually want to do!"

For now, she's just relishing each day in the hospital as they come. "It's simply amazing that I am able to spend my summer in the OR and in the clinic with Dr. Cassidy as a high school student," she said. "Every time I watch him operate, I can't help but look forward to the day when my hands are the ones that get to operate so that someone can get back to doing what they love. There is no doubt that even after my first week with Dr. Cassidy that I am hooked on a career in medicine."

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