Johanna Clement ‘20, a four-year senior from Cohoes, NY, had a profound and life-changing immersive learning experience this past summer. She recently sat down with us to share details and her reflections on the experience.
Q: How did you spend your summer and why?
J: I was fortunate to spend the last week of my summer shadowing a general surgeon, Dr. Anthony Cutry at Saratoga Hospital in Saratoga Springs, NY. Dr. Cutry is a general surgeon and Vice Chair, Department of Surgery Saratoga Hospital Medical Group. I have always been really interested in biological sciences and early on I was specifically interested in neurosurgery and cardiovascular surgery. My goal in pursuing this experience was to be able to potentially hone in on what (at this moment in time) is most compelling to me about the medical field. I thought what better way to determine a potential interest than to pursue a hands-on learning opportunity.
Q: Can you walk us through a typical day with Dr. Cutry?
J: I have learned that, in the life of a surgeon, no two days are ever the same! During my time shadowing Dr. Cutry, I observed surgeries including hernia repairs, colon polyp removal, thyroidectomy, a lymph node removal, an upper GI endoscopy, and a colostomy reversal. I also (with the permission of his patients) participated in office calls with Dr. Cutry and had the privilege of practicing on DaVinci Robotic Surgery simulator!
Q: What did this experience mean to you?
J: This experience helped to solidify my belief that being a surgeon is something I want to pursue and that I can’t really see myself doing any other career outside of the medical field. It meant a lot to me that Dr. Cutry spent a good amount of time talking to me about being a surgeon and what is involved in a career where you dedicate yourself to caring for others.
Q: Do you have any advice for your peers?
J: I would encourage my peers to capitalize on school and summer breaks to seek out hands-on learning opportunities where you can further explore ideas, interests, and passions. I would also encourage my fellow classmates to enter into an immersive learning experience with an open mind; when I began shadowing Dr. Cutry, I was open to the idea that this might reveal to me that surgery isn’t for me (turned out to be the opposite!). I think having an open mindset and being willing to do something that is out of your comfort zone can be more rewarding that you might think and may allow you to find something you truly love.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share, Johanna?
J: I am grateful that The White Mountain School has classes such as Anatomy and Physiology, which includes Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certification and activities such as FIRST Robotics which supports STEM education and immersive learning. I think having hands-on STEM opportunities, especially in high schools, really shapes who students will become and how they approach problems.