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Students and faculty collaborate to host Health Professions Career Panel & Reception

Coordinators gather Skidmore alumni to speak with students about their experiences in medicine

By Julia Leef
On February 18, 2012

  • Leela Chandrasekar '12 collaborated with faculty to bring alumni in for the panel. Courtesy of Chandrasekar

The Health Professions Career Panel & Reception, sponsored by the student-led Pre-Med Club, Career Services, Alumni Affairs and College Events and the Health Professions Advisory Committee, to expose students to the health profession via  Skidmore alumni, will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 23 in Davis Auditorium.

The panel originated with Leela Chandrasekar '12, president of the Pre-Med club. Its panelists come from a variety of specialized fields, including neurology, genetics, gastroenterology, hospice care, mental health nursing, Alzheimer's research and oncology.

Chandrasekar said the idea came from a previous panel the Pre-Med club hosted, in which five physicians from Saratoga Hospital visited the College last year to give students advice on medical school interviews.

"This time, however, I was anxious to include members of our alumni community, a wealthy resource of which most current students are unaware," Chandrasekar said. "I took this idea to Deborah Loffredo in Career Services, who then put me in contact with Shannon Rodriguez, and from there the event really took off."

Rodriguez, a counselor in the Career Development Center, coordinated the event with the help of Chandrasekar, Dr. Patricia Fehling, the health professions advisory committee's acting chair and Michael Sposili, director of Alumni Affairs and College Events and other faculty and staff.

"I recruited some of the panelists, marketed the event, arranged for some of the guest speakers to participate in classes earlier in the day, and acted as a resource to all that are involved," Rodriguez said. "My main goal is for students to have access to opportunities, such as professional programs, internships, job shadows, research, etc., networking opportunities and career information."

Seven panelists will attend this event:

  • Tracy Young Pearse, Ph.D. '97, assistant professor of neurology from Brigham & Women's Hospital at Harvard Medical School
  • Dr. Patrice Fox Spitalnik '74, associate professor of pathology and cell biology and assistant director of the MD-PhD program in the medical, public health, bioengineering and graduate schools at Columbia University
  • Dr. Steven Spitalnik, vice-chairman for Laboratory Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center
  • Dr. Andrew Warner '83, chairman of the Department of Gastroenterology at Lahey Clinic and associate clinical professor of Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine
  • Constance Carino, Ph.D., RN '58, former chairwoman of the Department of Psychiatric Nursing and clinical director of Psychiatric Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Megan Quintanilla PA-C, MMSc, '00, physician assistant of Smilow Hospital at Yale-New Haven
  • Dr. Marian Burns, veterinarian at Red Maples Veterinary Clinic and mother of a current student

"We have panelists coming from as far as Ohio, and we want to be sure that students attend," Rodriguez said. "If all goes well, we hope to make this an annual event."

Several panelists also will serve as guest speakers in various classrooms earlier in the day, including Drs. Spitalnik, husband and wife, who will speak about their medical careers from 9:40 to 11 a.m. in the Molecules in Medicine class in the Somers Room of the Tang Museum. Dr. Warner will speak about health care reform to the Exercise in Medicine class from 2:10 to 3:30 p.m. in the Sports Center, room 201. There are only 12 seats available for this event.

"Shannon has done an incredible job reaching out to and securing these very busy alumni," Chandrasekar said. "I've primarily made myself available to aid in any way possible, in terms of student and faculty outreach, advertising, coordination and planning."

The panel will be at 5:30 p.m., followed by a question-and-answer session with the audience at 6:30 p.m. A reception will follow at 7 p.m. in The Class of 1967 Lobby, outside of Gannett Auditorium.

Students who wish to attend the panel and the guest speaker events should RSVP through CareerLink.

"The panel includes an extremely varied array of members of the health professions field, all of whom are more than qualified to answer any and all student questions," Chandrasekar said. "If you are considering a career in the health professions, whether it be nursing or veterinary medicine, physical therapy or an M.D., the panel can help to put you on the right track."


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