OB-GYN Clinical Experiences Affirm Medical Aspirations of Undergraduates
Stevens undergraduates thrive in third year of OB-GYN internship with Jersey City Medical Center
A collaborative vision still going strong
Amid the flurry of babies born and robot-assisted surgeries performed through the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Women's Health at Jersey City Medical Center this past summer, there were some Ducks observing and learning in the halls.
This year marked the third year that Stevens undergraduates from the Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Chemistry and Chemical Biology have had the chance to take advantage of a unique collaboration between Stevens Institute of Technology and Jersey City Medical Center: a month-long internship that offers undergraduates interested in medicine a chance to shadow medical professionals across the entire Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Women’s Health from labor and delivery to outpatient screenings and more.
The program is the brainchild of Teaching Professor and Associate Chair of Undergraduate Education Patricia Anne Muisener from the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology; along with Professor and Department Chair Woo Lee; and Lance Bruck, the residency program director and chair of the Department of Obstetrics.
“This opportunity is one example of a range of real-world educational experiences the CCB department tries to provide to students,” said Muisener. “These experiences further cement their ability to decide if they want to pursue medicine and give them more information, skills and knowledge that will be crucial both when applying and attending medical school as well as when they are a future doctor.”
The program is open to students at any point during their undergraduate or AMP career, and has expanded each year since it started, featuring nine students this year.
Added Muisener, “These intensive clinical experiences are unique and make students more competitive when applying to medical school as they have had direct exposure to clinical, research and operational activities of a department in a hospital that they can relate in both the application and interview.”
The students spend four weeks rotating between labor and delivery, where they saw births; inpatient gynecology, featuring procedures such as the removal of polyps and fibroids; and outpatient OB-GYN, where they were a part of consultations between patients and doctors within the field of obstetrics and gynecology.
A powerful first day has a lasting impression
For biology major Lilya Eid ‘26, participating in the internship confirmed that a career in medicine is really what she wants.
Eid was “thrown into the deep end” from her first day in the program, in which she was invited to watch a cesarean section before orientation was even over. “This was the first surgery of any kind I saw, and it was like, ‘Oh, my gosh!’” recalled Eid. “I tried my best to stay in the operating room as much as I could, but I just felt like I needed to step out for a bit.” This somewhat overwhelming start didn’t dampen Eid’s enthusiasm, however. “Going back the next day, I actually ended up seeing a C-section and a vaginal birth on the same day. So that was very special to me.”
The days flew by for Eid. “By the end of the day you're like, ‘Wow, it's already four o’clock, and it's time for me to go home,’ but you've learned so much, and you've experienced so much in those hours.”
Eid commented on the amount of lifelong learning that goes into being a doctor. “Yes, you graduate from medical school, but you never really stop studying. You always go back to books, you go back to articles you read about the latest technologies, things that you can apply in your everyday work.”
“This experience was truly a highlight for me as I'm just starting in my pre-med career,” concluded Eid. “It reinforced that I'm on the right path that's worth every effort I put into it.”
Beyond just diseases
When asked if she had any advice for students interested in the program, chemical biology major Vrinda Modi ’25 had a quick answer: “Do it!”
Modi has always been interested in parts of medicine that are “more invasive.”
“This internship was a great way to see [that],” explained Modi, “because OB-GYN is a good mix of the more invasive side of medicine as well as the social side, such as talking to patients, getting their history, learning where they're from and what they're dealing with.”
Continued Modi, “It's a very good exposure into all sides of medicine, in the OR [operating room], in the clinic, even things that you need to do behind the scenes. You'll really get to see everything.”
Like Eid, she had an eventful experience from day one. “The first day we're actually scheduled just for orientation and we basically got a tour of the hospital, just some administrative stuff, and I wasn't really expecting to do anything. But I ended up seeing a birth on my first day there! So that was really exciting.”
For Modi, a powerful lesson she learned was an understanding of the parts of medicine that go beyond just learning symptoms and cures. “Yes, you are treating [the patient’s] condition, or whatever they have. But you also need to take into consideration their lifestyle, their feelings, their relationship status — things that you might not see in an ultrasound.”
Learning new things — together
Rising biology major Catalina Abusada ’24 is planning to become a physician's assistant (PA) after graduation. For her, the internship was a blend of learning new things and confirming things she already knew.
“My perspective in the medical field did change a bit in a positive way because I realized that everyone’s journey to get to where they are is different,” explained Abusada. “There’s those who are older and younger, yet still made it to the same place, so age does not matter when one is studying and working in the medical field.”
What didn’t change, though, is her passion for the field. “I looked forward to going to the hospital because I always left with something new that I learned. The days go by really fast because there is so much that happens, and every hour is different from the last.”
The best suggestion Abusada has for others participating in this program is to ask a lot of questions. “Because if [the people you asked] don’t know the answer, they would find someone who does, and so both you and the person who you asked will know something new.”
What matters is the people
Abusada, Eid and Modi were all so moved by the welcoming nature of the residents, nurses and doctors that were their guides during this program. It was aspirational for the students to get to see these professionals at work.
Said Abusada, “Each resident gave every patient their full attention and energy, and I admired the patient-to-doctor connection that there was. The staff was amazing, and I immediately felt comfortable speaking with everyone who I worked with.”
“The residents were very understanding, and same with the attending,” said Eid. “It proved to me that healthcare is really all about teamwork and community.”
The personal connections were also special. “I met a couple of PA students on my last couple of days and I connected with them well,” said Abusada. “They made me thankful for the role I want to play in the medical field.”
“At the end of the day, it's really the people around you that make the difference,” said Eid, citing a nurse who got her some water during that first cesarean she observed. “Her kindness resonated with me throughout the whole program.
Stevens students go farther
While this internship sparked an interest in OB-GYN for Modi, she feels that it is a valuable experience even for someone interested in a medical field outside of OB-GYN. “OB-GYN, whether it relates to your body or not, is very important to know about. Learning about medicine — You're really learning about you.”
Eid seconded this idea, “Healthcare in general is universal everywhere, in every field. You're just applying those practices a little differently to the patient.”
For Muisener, there is “a sense of pride” watching students discover their passions through the internship. “I have worked with students applying to medical school for years and I am happy to be able to help provide an experience that will enhance their skill set as well as their application.”
Many students who participated in the program in both this and past years are already using the knowledge and connections that they received during the internship, applying to medical schools and earning master’s degrees.
Stevens graduates are already a tier above competing medical applicants with strong preparation in science, research and hands-on learning. This program adds further value to a Stevens education by giving students direct clinical experience and connections in the field, as well as learning moments they will be able to draw from for the rest of their careers.