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St. Mary Medical Center Welcomes Pre-Med Students to 38th Annual Summer Programs


St. Mary Medical Center staff welcomed 28 medical and pre-med students from local, state and international universities Monday, May 22 to the Hobart hospital. For the 38th year, the students are participating in the hospital’s Summer Extern and Shadowing Volunteer programs.

Program founder and sponsor Medical Director Vijay Dave, MD, thanked St. Mary Medical Center for the hospital’s continued longstanding support of the Summer Extern and Shadowing Volunteer Programs.

“I want to thank St. Mary Medical Center for allowing me to do this program for 38 years in a row,” he said. “I like it when I see young (people) who are working very, very diligently to get something. Trust me; your rotation over here is going to make you a better physician and, above all, a better human being.”

The Extern program is for students who have completed at least one full year of medical school. The Shadowing Volunteer program is for students who are in their third or fourth year of undergraduate education.

Participants in both programs will complete rounds with assigned physicians and preceptors, observe different departments within the hospital, and contribute 12 hours of documented community service. They will also work collaboratively on research projects and present their findings at the conclusion of the eight weeks.

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“I don’t believe any of you would be sitting here today if you didn’t believe that your calling in life was to help others in any way that you can,” said St. Mary Medical Center CEO Janice Ryba as she welcomed the students to this year’s program. “It is a privilege for me to be able to offer this opportunity to so many of you. I hope you spend appropriate time really taking advantage of every opportunity to find your path in healthcare.”

Dave said that undergraduate pre-med students benefit from the shadowing program because it shows them much of what is involved in physicians’ day-to-day work.

“Some rotations are short; some rotations are long,” he said. “When you are with me, you start first thing in the morning, wherever I am going, and you are not done until I am done.”

He told Monday’s group that his own children decided against medical school after going through the program. Most participants, however, have gone on to become physicians, he said.

This year’s Extern program includes a number of medical students from Vietnam whose participation was arranged by Dave’s colleague, Thach Nguyen, MD. Those students will also participate this summer in the International Human Cadaver Prosection Program at the Indiana University School of Medicine – Northwest (IUSM-NW) anatomy lab in Gary, Ind.

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IUSM-NW Associate Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology Ernest Talarico, PhD, told the students Monday that what they learn and experience over the next eight weeks will significantly influence their development as physicians.

“You will see some (cases) where you will help the patient,” Talarico said. “You are going to meet some patients who will refuse help. You will see others who have reached the limits of medicine…you won’t be able to help. Hopefully, you’ll learn something about how to deal with those situations, and you’ll learn something from each other, as well.”

The most important qualities medical students should possess are goodness and humanity, Dave and Talarico agreed.

“It’s very, very important to be a good human being,” Dave added. “If you don’t like to look at patients, if you don’t like to touch a person and look into his eyes and try to understand his pain, don’t waste your time.”

For more information about St. Mary Medical Center’s Summer Extern and Shadowing Program, or to learn how to apply for next year’s cohort, contact Medical Education Regional Director Susan Miller at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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