Alumni Spotlight: Samantha Blue

Sammy is a sophomore at the University of Washington in Seattle. She is a pre-med student majoring in Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology with a minor in Global Health. She is currently an alumni ambassador for Atlantis. Outside of school, Sammy enjoys traveling and running!

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Why did you choose this program?

I chose to go on an Atlantis fellowship for many reasons! I had a friend who went on a fellowship to Portugal and she absolutely loved it. When she told me about her fellowship, I was only a junior in high school.

Three years later, going on an Atlantis Fellowship was still on my mind. I knew that I wanted to become a surgeon, however I thought that going on a fellowship would help cement my career aspirations. And it did. I also wanted to experience foreign healthcare, as I have a strong interest in global health. To become a doctor, it is important to learn about health care systems in places other than the US.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

The staff at Atlantis is wonderful. The program coordinators assist you with almost everything. The only thing you really have to organize on your own is purchasing flights. Throughout the enrollment process and prior to your trip, the Atlantis staff is incredibly helpful and ensures that you have all of the information you need.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Get outside of your comfort zone and become friends with everyone on your trip! You might make some of your best friends!

Travelling abroad alone can be frightening at times, but being with people who share the same interests as you makes it all the more wonderful and less overwhelming.

Aside from spending time and especially going on weekend trips with your fellow fellows, I would suggest exploring on your own at least once. Adventuring alone in a foreign country is a once in a life time experience.

I would also suggest you bring a notebook everyday to shadowing. You will have so much to learn from the doctors at the hospital you are shadowing at. The surgeries you will watch are incredible, and you should write down everything so that later in life you can refer back to your experience. I documented everything I saw so I would not forget and I am glad that I did. Also, ask your doctors as many questions as possible! They will enjoy answering them and you will learn tons. Pay attention to everything they do! Whatever specialty you shadow in, even if it is one you did not orignally "want" to shadow in, keep your eyes open and learn. Every specialty is a great specialty. It might even become your favorite.

Ask your friends questions as well! They may be closer to applying to medical school and could give you valuable advice.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

For an Atlantis fellow, days are busy but SO fun. On Monday-Thursday, you'll wake up at about 6:30 am, eat breakfast and get ready for shadowing. You will be at the hospital by 8 am (at least this is what mornings were like in Genova), and be done with shadowing by around 1 pm.

Typically, if a surgery runs long you will stay at the hospital a bit later. After shadowing, you are free to explore unless there is a group dinner! On Friday there is typically a group excursion. We went on a hike to castles and on a beach trip. Saturday-Sunday are for you to travel, and I highly recommend you do so. Neighboring countries are easy to get to!

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

Before going on my fellowship, I had never travelled on my own, nor had I travelled overseas. I was afraid that I would get lost. And I did get lost! However, it turned out to be a good experience. Coming home to Genova from a weekend trip, my friends and I accidentally took a train that went in the opposite direction. We ended up in the Italian mountains, in a small commune town called Mondovi. It was 12am. There were no trains that ran until the morning, so we were stuck.

Although I definitely recommend triple checking to make sure you are on the correct train, getting lost was a learning experience and it turned out to be okay! Once you learn how to read the train and bus schedules in Europe or wherever you choose to go on a fellowship, getting around becomes easy!

Is there anything you would have done differently?

If there is one thing I would have done differently, it would be to never come home from shadowing and revert to resting because I was tired. The cities that you will be in are beautiful, and you should explore and take in every sight. You could go on a waterfront run with a friend, or go out for lunch in the city center! Drink lots of coffee, and especially stay hydrated. The more awake you are, the more you can take in during surgeries and during your adventures.