Summer Programs: Katen Scholars

This is an interview with Ms. Ankita Pradhan (University of Chicago Class of 2012). She participated in the Katen Scholars program during Summer 2010. You can contact her via email with any further questions.

What is the name of your summer program?

It was called the Katen Scholar’s Program and it was at the University of Chicago and sponsored by CCiHP. The leader of the program was Violet Gannon. The program included 10 students, from rising second years to rising fourth years. During the beginning of the program, we had to craft a research proposal. At the end of the program, we had a symposium in we presented our research through a 3 minute presentation and poster session. The symposium was attended by family, friends, PI’s, and other professionals.

Please give a brief summary of the program

The program had dual components. One of the components had us do some sort of full time research. A few of us did clinical research, which means that they were at the hospital and most of their research was based on monitoring patients and surveying them. Most of us did lab based research, whether it was in a wet lab (with actual samples, assays, etc.) or dry lab (computer based). The other component was a weekly group discussion based on whatever readings were assigned to us for the week.

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The discussions included Violet asking us questions and us discussing them, or breaking up into groups and suggesting answers to the problems that were posed, or having debates about issues such as the amount the U.S. is spending on healthcare. The readings included topics such as organ donation, the U.S. healthcare system, health insurance, global health, the spirituality of medicine, and food deserts in Chicago, as well as many others. Throughout the program, we would have smaller assignments. For example, we each had to do a presentation on a career in medicine that is not well known.

Please give a brief summary of your experience with the program

I did research with Dr. Erika Claud, who is an MD and a neonatologist. My research on an inflammatory gastrointestinal disease called Necrotizing Enterocolitis which affects primarily premature babies. Our aim this summer was to determine whether the babies that did not get this disease were colonized with some beneficial bacteria that gave positive effects to their intestinal epithelia and prevented them from contracting the disease. I definitely enjoyed the program and would recommend it to others. I loved learning so much more about healthcare than I could have learned in any undergraduate class, and I ended up becoming friends with a lot of the people from the program.

Could you talk about the good/great/amazing things about your program?

The best things were definitely the ease with which I could discuss things with the group. Violet was a great discussion leader, and we never felt afraid to state our opinions or even ask simple questions. I enjoyed that we were kept on our toes every minute, whether it was through heavy amounts of reading or being asked to polish our presentation skills.

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We learned numerous skills that will make us better health care workers, such as presenting to an audience, being able to talk intelligently about various healthcare issues, and being able to form important connections with colleagues. The length of the program was also great, since we got a week off in the beginning of the summer and a month off after the program. 

What about things in the program that could have been better?

It could have been better to cut some readings from some of the weeks. Sometimes we didn’t get a chance to discuss all the readings, and in all honestly I would end up staying up late the day before reading a lot of them. I would also suggest planning more group outings or group assignments. 

Anything really important that you learned while there that you want to share?

I learned that there are many, many things that one can do in the healthcare field and many ways to get there. If you want to be a doctor, there’s no need to try to make yourself into what you feel would be the “perfect doctor.” Explore your own interests. Chances are, you will be able to find a career in the health care field that fits your personality.  Also, the key to self improvement is recognizing your strengths and weaknesses.

Could you explain how you found about the program, the application process and any tips for students interested in this program?

I found out about it through the CCiHP mailing list. I would say if people were interested in it, it definitely helps to have a research project already lined up. Make an effort to e-mail and visit professors/clinicians that you would be interested in working with.

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