Institute Hosts Pre-Medical and Medical Students for an “Amazing” Summer

From left to right: Courtney Skow, Emily O’Donnell, Dr. Tom Hilgers, Marah Smith, Dino Francescutti, and Samuel Smith.

From left to right: Courtney Skow, Emily O’Donnell, Dr. Tom Hilgers, Marah Smith, Dino Francescutti, and Samuel Smith.

From the Fall 2014 Culture of Life newsletter

Each year, the Pope Paul VI Institute attracts a select number of pre-medical and medical students from across the United States to participate in a summer-long internship program that immerses each intern in the Institute’s cutting-edge research and medical environment.

This year’s interns included Courtney Skow (Texas A&M University), Emily O’Donnell (University of Nebraska-Omaha), Dino Francescutti (University of Tennessee-Knoxville), and siblings Marah Smith (University of South Dakota-Vermillion) and Samuel Smith (South Dakota State University).

During their time at the Institute, the interns shadowed Dr. Hilgers and other medical staff, providing them the opportunity to view ultrasounds, and participate in lab reviews. One student even observed a robotic surgery. The Internship Program is one of many programs sponsored by the Institute’s education department, and similar to the Institute’s other educational initiatives, it is designed to build a culture of life in women’s health care.

This mission was not lost on the students. “It radically changed the trajectory of my life, my goals, and further strengthened my views on Catholic social teaching,” remarked Emily. “I definitely want to pursue a career that supports Dr. Hilgers’ work.”

For Marah, the experience had an equally strong impact. “If you are a Catholic and you are going into medicine, it is easy to avoid issues such as contraception, sterilization, and so many others. To come here and see medicine that is inspired by the Catholic faith … it is something that makes you very proud to be a Catholic.”

Her brother, Samuel, agrees. “It is a medical community that promotes the Gospel and there are so many great people here who are living out their faith in the community.”

Perhaps one of the most memorable aspects of the internship was the opportunity to work directly with
Dr. Hilgers, who the interns affectionately describe as both a “role model” and “hero.”

“Despite everything I knew about the Institute, I was still surprised by the scope of his research,” said Dino, referring to Dr. Hilgers. “It’s amazing to think that one guy made all this.”

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