Louise Wen is a fourth year medical student at Stony Brook University Medical School and is from New York City. She conducted research this past summer with Dr. Brendan Carvalho in the obstetric anesthesiology division of Stanford Anesthesia through the Foundation for Anesthesiology Education and Research Medical Student Anesthesia Research Fellowship (FAER MSARF) . She was kind enough to write an essay about her time here.
As I made my preparations for my summer at Stanford, I was filled with excitement and curiosity for my very first visit to California. My introduction to California was a weeklong visit to Yosemite Park with my partner of seven years and his parents. After creating a wealth of memories on this family vacation, we drove a few short hours to downtown Palo Alto. We found the area vibrant with innovative businesses that catered to the uniquely artistic, technological, and health and environmentally conscientious culture of Palo Alto.
At Stanford, I was struck by the universal friendliness of the hospital staff. Even though Stanford is a major academic medical center, I was surprised by the warmth and intimacy more commonly found at a community hospital. The nurses offered suggestions on ways to improve our study, which examined the role of oxytocin on pain in breastfeeding patients. By my second week, they would approach me to offer valuable information on potential study subjects. Through our daily interactions, we became friends.
On weekends and evenings, we exercised at a walking trail just south of campus called the Dish, enjoyed meals at delicious yet affordable dining options, and shopped at the weekend farmers’ markets that are open year-round.
Friendships also developed with the residents, who provided excellent guidance and mentorship for my goals of pursuing a career in anesthesiology as a researcher and educator. They introduced me to Stanford’s unique FARM track, which integrates an additional 9 mths of protected research time in the residency training. Additionally, FARM residents enjoy a university-wide network of support through the Stanford Society of Physician Scholars, which hosts a monthly seminar series on topics ranging from research funding to academic appointments.
Every afternoon, the ob anesthesia attendings give intimate seminar-style lecture in one of the hospital’s outdoor flowering alcoves. Occasionally, I would even spot a hummingbird as it zipped between blossoms. I especially enjoyed these lectures, as they were engaging and intellectually challenging, yet informal and fun. I marveled at the expertise of the attendings who shared their experiences of managing complex and high-risk cases, cited details from landmark studies to support their management strategies, and described medical-legal lessons from their experiences as expert witnesses.
During my last few weekends at Stanford, I explored the greater Bay Area. In the bustling streets of San Francisco’s Chinatown, friends and I enjoyed an authentically prepared Szechuan dinner. Another weekend, we visited the Santa Cruz beach boardwalk and the deafening rumbles of roller coasters and watched the golden sunset from the cool beach sand. My favorite weekend excursion however was a camping trip at Castle Rock State Park. The majestic Santa Cruz mountains are a perfect backdrop to conversations shared with fellow backpackers.
My summer was incredible and I am grateful to have had such a positive experience. Amidst Stanford’s warm and supportive environment, I further developed research skills that I will use in my future career as an academic anesthesiologist.
I would highly recommend the FAER MSARF program to any medical student interested in pursuing a career in anesthesia research, as it has both solidified my commitment to and clarified my personal goals in research.
thanks Louise for the nice letter!