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A summer of research
Every year for the past 10 years, a handful of college students receive the opportunity of a lifetime, when they attend the Digestive Health Institute Summer Research Program at AdventHealth Tampa. The students, many of whom hope to attend medical school, participate in a three-month program that also allows them to present their own research project at the end-of-the-year banquet.
“This program allows young students a small taste of what it is to be a surgeon,” said Sharona Ross, MD, FACS, an Advanced Foregut and HPB Surgeon at AdventHealth Digestive Institute Tampa. Dr. Sharona Ross, Dr. Iswanto Sucandy, and two research coordinators supervise and mentor the students throughout the summer.
During the program, participants divide their time between working with surgeons and working on their own research projects. They shadow the surgeons as they visit patients in clinic, watch them in the operating room, join them on rounds in the hospital and attend their lectures.
“It was a great opportunity to actually be involved in patient care,” said Kaitlyn Crespo, a former program participant who is now a research coordinator. “I got to see how a surgeon’s day-to-day life is, which is something not many pre-med students get.”
Fruits of their labor
The highlight of this summer’s program was the banquet in mid-August, where students presented their research projects. Their topics included:
- “A Decade of Experience with Minimally Invasive Anti-Reflux Operations: Wrapping Our Hands Around the Approaches,” presented by Jenna Jattan
- “Single Institution Robotic Transhiatal Esophagectomy Experience: The Truth Isn’t That Hard to Swallow,” presented by Tien Nguyen
- “The Future of Gastric Resection: Experience and Outcomes with Robotic Gastrectomy,” presented by Ryan O’Hare
- “An Institutional Analysis of In-Hospital Readmissions Following Pancreaticoduodenectomy: Can it be Prevented?” presented by Dharti Patel
- “To Convert or Not to Convert? A Single Institution’s Analysis of Converting Robotic Pancreaticoduodenectomies,” presented by: Sneha Saravanan
- “A Prospective Analysis of the Outcomes of Pancreaticoduodenectomy for Locally Advanced Pancreatic Cancer,” presented by Rishi Ashwath
- “Long-Term Survival Outcomes Following Robotic Hepatectomy for Malignant Liver Diseases: A Prospective Analysis from A Minimally Invasive Hepatobiliary Program,” presented by Mohammed Alogaidi
- “Comparison of Iwate, IMM, and Southampton Laparoscopic Liver Resection Difficulty Scoring Systems for Predicting Intra and Postoperative Metrics in Robotic Hepatectomy,” presented by Jeilianis Adorno
A continuing relationship
For many of the students, their experiences with the program don’t end with the summer. They keep in touch with Dr. Ross, and some of them — including Crespo and her fellow research coordinator Cameron Syblis — return to AdventHealth to work with her while they’re applying to medical schools.
“When I participated in the program, it was my first experience with research,” said Syblis. “Medical schools favor students with research experience. At the Summer Research Program, I worked on research papers that were published in peer-reviewed journals, with me listed as a coauthor. I have learned more than I ever could have imagined, and I grew so much from participating in the program.”
Dr. Ross, who has been a part of the program since its inception at AdventHealth Tampa, delights in seeing her young proteges grow. “I enjoy working with young minds who are enthusiastic,” she said. “They’re truly brilliant. And it encourages me about the future.”