Summer program drives new interest in otolaryngology

A decade-long partnership between the Washington University School of Medicine Summer Research Program and Meharry Medical College is resulting in an increased interest in otolaryngology.

The program gives Meharry medical students the opportunity to engage in mentored research on the Washington University School of Medicine campus during the summer between their first and second years of medical school. Nasvhille, TN-based Meharry is one of the nation’s oldest and largest historically black academic health science centers dedicated to educating physicians, dentists, researchers and health policy experts.

Terrance Embry, Meharry student and participant in the 2019 T32 Predoctoral Research Scholars Program

Because of the partnership, four Meharry students have worked in the Clinical Outcomes Research Office assisting with on-going research projects, taking classes, attending career development seminars, and gaining exposure to otolaryngology.

“It is a real pleasure having Meharry students work in the lab,” says Jay Piccirillo, MD, the director of Clinical Outcomes Research. “Plus, we encourage them to think about otolaryngology as a residency and career choice.”

In fact, one of the Meharry summer program students, Terrance Embry, is now a T32 predoctoral scholar working in otolaryngology. And another recent summer program student, Mariel Watkins, MHS, med school class of 2020 at Meharry Medical College, has decided to pursue otolaryngology. Watkins reflects on her experience.

Why did you choose to participate in the Wash U-Meharry summer program?

Mariel Watkins, Meharry Medical College class of 2020.

I chose to participate in the Wash U Meharry Summer Research Program because alumni of the program said that it was a good opportunity, not only to gain exposure to the research process at an esteemed institution, but also to network with faculty that would act as mentors throughout your career.

What did you get out of the program?

Not only was I introduced to the specialty of otolaryngology, but I learned about the research process. I took classes on how to form a research question, statistical analysis, and writing a manuscript. Most importantly, I learned the importance of seeking effective mentorship.

Would you have considered pursuing otolaryngology had you not participated in the summer program?

The summer program was my introduction to otolaryngology. During the WashU summer program I shadowed in otolaryngology and gained exposure to the subspecialties in otolaryngology. It was at the WashU summer program that I learned how otolaryngology gives individuals the opportunity to experience, communicate, and connect with others and our environment. It is for this reason that I have chosen to pursue otolaryngology.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

The WashU Summer Research Program reinforced the idea that one should keep an open mind and seek the most out of every opportunity. When asked to rank my research interest I did not expect to do research in otolaryngology, but I am ecstatic that I took the opportunity to learn about the specialty and to acquire skills in statistical analysis and research.