University of Vermont

College of Medicine

Medical Student Education

Students Share Experiences at Clinical Training Sites

Vincent Kan, a UVM medical student in the class of 2014, left, with Assistant Professor of Surgery Robert Borrego, M.D.
At St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Fla., Vincent Kan, a UVM medical student in the class of 2014, left, discusses a case with Assistant Professor of Surgery Robert Borrego, M.D. (Photo by Raj Chawla, UVM Medical Photography)

Two years following the establishment of several new clinical training sites for the University of Vermont College of Medicine, dozens of medical students are actively engaged in rotations at the three satellite locations in Danbury, Ct., Bangor, Maine, and West Palm Beach, Fla. During these rotations, students gain critical experience working with a wide range of patient populations, scenarios and conditions on their path to becoming fully competent physicians.

In addition to the College’s primary teaching hospital partner Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Vt., there are three satellite sites, including Danbury Hospital, a 371-bed regional medical center and university teaching hospital in Connecticut; St. Mary's Medical Center, a 463-bed acute care facility in West Palm Beach, Florida; and Eastern Maine Medical Center, a 411-bed medical center in Bangor.

Class of 2014 medical student Ashley Atiyeh was an undergraduate music major who shifted from playing piano to working towards a career in medicine. She’s performed all of her clinical clerkships to date at UVM’s satellite sites: First, she completed her pediatrics and obstetrics/gynecology clerkship at St. Mary’s, and currently, she is doing a surgery rotation in Bangor. “I had some phenomenal clinical experiences in West Palm,” said Atiyeh, who witnessed not only a number of rare infectious diseases cases on pediatrics, but intensive hands-on training in obstetrics/gynecology as well. According to Atiyeh, St. Mary’s busy OB/GYN service afforded her the life-changing opportunity to deliver a baby girl.

“Because we had received hands-on training in our first weeks of labor and delivery, I felt relatively comfortable delivering the baby, suctioning her airway, and cutting the umbilical cord,” shares Atiyeh. “That moment made the previous year and a half of studying worth it!"

In mid-July, Atiyeh shadowed Eastern Maine Medical Center's LifeFlight air ambulance crew, donning a green jumpsuit and helmet and observing southern Maine from an aerial perspective. After one trauma call, which involved a pedestrian struck by a motor vehicle, she was able to accompany the patient from the air ambulance, to radiology and then the operating room, where she observed the removal of a large subdural hematoma that she and the team had seen on imaging results. “It was incredible – the shades of gray on CT scan images have distinct meaning now,” she says. Her next rotation – in internal medicine – will take place at Danbury Hospital.

Fellow Class of 2014 student Dane Slentz is currently in the midst of his OB/GYN rotation in Bangor – his first rotation away from Fletcher Allen Health Care, where he completed training in family medicine and pediatrics. Originally from Hamilton, N.Y., Slentz became a Fair Haven, Vt. resident during his first year of high school. Though he’s currently undecided on a medical specialty, he says he has enjoyed the hands-on aspects of surgery and the opportunity to observe and participate in a wide variety of procedures and clinical settings at Eastern Maine Medical Center.

“I was able to assist in c-sections and see a lot of the procedures and pathology that we have learned about during the past two years,” shares Slentz, who has enjoyed his preceptors and mentors in Bangor, including obstetrician/gynecologist Paul Smith, M.D.

Jeffrey McLaren, a fourth-year medical student and Essex, Vt. native, did an internal medicine rotation, an outpatient neurology rotation, and his medicine Acting Internship at Danbury Hospital. “The attending physicians are fantastic with the UVM medical students and along with the residents, are very eager to teach us,” says McLaren, who enjoyed several aspects of the location. Among the pluses of Danbury, shares McLaren, are contact with a large immigrant population and close proximity to New York City. He also found a great mentor there – UVM College of Medicine alumnus and neurologist Jan Mashman, M.D.

“Dr. Mashman is one of the most inspirational physicians I have worked with,” McLaren says.  He is exactly the kind of person that we should all emulate as physicians and he is a great representative of the UVM College of Medicine.”

Another favorite teacher of McLaren’s was Dino Messina, M.D., Ph.D., the director of the primary care residency program at Danbury, who, according to McLaren “loves to teach, really preaches preventive medicine and works hard make the students a part of the health clinic in Danbury, where the population is medically underserved.”

Third-year medical student and Brattleboro, Vt. native Anne Coleman had a similarly positive experience with the teachers at Danbury, where she completed neurology and outpatient internal medicine rotations. Most remarkable among her experiences were the in-hospital and acute emergent stroke care cases, as well as working in the outpatient clinic, which was a medical home, and afforded her an opportunity to learn about that healthcare model.

“The residents and attending physicians at Danbury were passionate about improving their community’s health on a larger scale, and that was inspiring to see,” shares Coleman.

Coleman moved south for her inpatient internal medicine, and found West Palm Beach’s diverse patient population and range of medical issues incredible.

“I had the opportunity to see things that I might never have had the chance to witness in Vermont, like managing adult sickle cell disease,” she says.

She found her one-on-one interactions with the attendings particularly valuable. Coleman, who was one of only two medical students on the floor, says, “The independence was great!” The opportunity to select her patients and shape her own learning experience, she adds, provided “a good balance of autonomy and support.”