Take me to Székesfehérvár! [Testimonial]

 
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Jackie Hutchison is a rising senior at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, studying Health and Human Science with aspirations to become a Pediatrician. She has experience working in holistic medicine clinics, the cancer research labs at Stanford University and the Addario Lung Cancer Research Foundation. Jackie was part of the Atlantis Fellowship in Székesfehérvár, Hungary, for 3 weeks in the Winter 2016-2017 fellowship program. At LMU, she is President of the Women’s Club Soccer Team, works at the Children's Center on campus and is an active member in Sursum Corda Service Organization focusing on global hunger awareness.

 

I am not the type of person to take risks. I think through and plan out everything before making a decision. Applying to the Atlantis Fellowship certainly forced me out of my comfort zone, and committing to two weeks in Székesfehérvár was one of the biggest risks I have taken in my life. I was in a country with which I wasn’t familiar, shadowing alongside people I didn’t know, doing something that I wasn’t sure I wanted to do. Safe to say, the Atlantis Fellowship was well worth the risk. My Atlantis Fellowship taught me so much about myself and about the career I intend to pursue in the near future.

I had always been interested in medicine. Prior to the Atlantis Fellowship, I had been feeling burnt out and had strongly considered dropping the idea of attending medical school. I didn’t want to spend more time in school, accumulate more student loans, and wait even longer to start a career. I even considered searching for alternative career options. However, my experience at St. George’s hospital in Székesfehérvár confirmed my interest in medicine as a vocational path and recharged my motivation and determination to become a doctor. The exposure to ten different departments allowed me to understand why such extensive schooling is necessary to become a medical doctor, and over the course of two weeks, I was able to distinguish several specialties which I could see myself pursuing in the future..

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My Atlantis Fellowship taught me so much about myself and about the career I intend to pursue in the near future.

There was one thing that was consistent across all departments: a passionate and caring staff. Given the lower average income for doctors in Hungary, it was special to see the love with which the doctors and nurses there cared for their patients, as if they were their own family. It was inspiring and heart-warming to witness such compassionate interaction between people who were strangers to each other. This is the type of medical doctor that I aspire to be in the near future. Observing the day-to-day operation of a medical facility and the doctor-patient interactions reminded me why I am passionate about medicine and why it is the field I see myself in the future. I am forever thankful for this experience. Without it, I may have found myself leaning towards a different career path.

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My Atlantis Fellowship also provided me with life-long friends and mentors in the field of medicine. Although the other Atlantis Fellows on my program were diverse in their backgrounds, interests and personalities, we all shared in common an understanding of the challenges of pre-med studies and the demanding preparations required for medical school. The group dinners allowed me to socialize with different people each night and come to understand why they had chosen medicine. Some students were finishing up their undergraduate studies, while others were in graduate school or had served multiple tours overseas fighting for our country. It was interesting to hear about the journeys the other Atlantis Fellows had taken on the path to medicine and the challenges they faced along the way. In addition to making some great friends, the medical professionals I shadowed in each department were extremely knowledgeable and gave me thorough and detailed answers to all my questions. They were truly accommodating mentors. I am eternally grateful for this wonderful support system that I gained in just over two weeks in Székesfehérvár. I hope to keep in touch with everyone from my trip in the upcoming years.  

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I am eternally grateful for this wonderful support system...

 

Looking back at the experience now, the people and the sense of community made my Atlantis Fellowship so memorable -- everything from Peter (site manager for Budapest) greeting us at the airport, to Dr. Izbeki (Deputy Medical Doctor at St. George’s hospital) welcoming us to the hospital with open arms, to Emil (site manager for Székesfehérvár) giving a toast at the farewell dinner. Székesfehérvár is indeed a beautiful town, but the people made it even better. Every encounter I had at the hospital was full of kindness and an attempt to help each of one of the Atlantis Fellows, despite the language barrier. Vica (site manager for Székesfehérvár) was always checking in with us, making sure that our time in Hungary was the best possible. The visit from David (Senior Admissions Coordinator, based in Washington, D.C.) really demonstrated how much the people at Atlantis care about the experience that the Fellows have in each placement. For me, the Atlantis Fellowship truly was a life-changing experience. Without the exposure to a new culture and a new way of life and medicine in a foreign country, I don’t think I would have been able to grow so much personally and professionally. I now have a firm vision of my future, something I didn’t have prior to my Atlantis Fellowship. I heartily recommend Atlantis to anyone interested in medicine.
 


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