Two students from Caesar Rodney High School interned last year with Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeon Daniel Marelli, MD. As high school seniors, Alyssa Wilson and Katrina Raiche, approached Dr. Marelli after they heard his lecture through the Healthcare Explorers program at Bayhealth Hospital, Kent Campus. This is a program that briefs students about potential healthcare careers. As part of the senior internship that was arranged, the students came in daily during the school year and worked under Dr. Marelli on the endovascular aortic aneurysm repair program, gaining valuable experience and earning class credit at the same time.
Bayhealth’s endovascular aortic aneurysm repair program is a small part of the heart surgery program but has grown steadily over the last 10 years, said Dr. Marelli. They’ve been monitoring the long-term outcome of these patients, and the work of Wilson and Raiche helped generate and prepare data that can be used internally and externally in sharing results. “The students got to see how clinical research is conducted and also got experience working with the Institutional Review Board, doing basic statistics, and developing power point presentations,” said Dr. Marelli. “It prepared them well for the types of research internships they’ll encounter in pre-med and medical school programs.”
Wilson and Raiche are now enrolled as first year pre-med students at the University of Louisville in Kentucky and Monmouth University in New Jersey, respectively. They said they were very appreciative of the internship opportunity, where they also got to observe clinic and see both sides of medicine—working with data and interacting with patients. “I gained immeasurable experience in my chosen career field and gained a lifelong mentor along the way,” said Wilson. Raiche added that participating in the research program has opened many doors for her already. “Dr. Marelli has forever impacted my life. I am beyond grateful to have been a part of his research.”
Dr. Marelli has hosted students previously for summer internships, but this was the first time he had students intern on a yearlong basis. “It was a big commitment on everybody’s part and these were very hardworking students,” he said. “Overall it was a very positive experience.”
“In the future, if we want to consolidate this pathway statewide, we have to develop contracts with high schools, colleges and universities to facilitate enrollment in programs with us,” Dr. Marelli said. He hopes his experience will lay some groundwork for establishing partnerships to connect more local pre-med students with Bayhealth physicians.