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victoria_ruvkunDissecting pig hearts is not everyone’s idea of summer fun, but for Victoria Ruvkun (II), who spent four weeks at Stanford Medical School in July, it was another exciting step in figuring out what area of medicine she wants to pursue.

“I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a doctor,” says Victoria. “In eighth grade, I shadowed ER doctors in two different hospitals. I loved the emergency room, but it just didn’t hold me like the idea of being a surgeon does.”

Victoria was one of 60 students selected worldwide to participate in the Cardiothoracic Surgical Skills and Education Center Stanford Summer Internship. This program is designed to educate high school and pre-med students in basic and advanced cardiovascular anatomy and physiology as well as medical and surgical techniques used in pre-med and medical school.

The students took an anatomy class and in the “wet” lab, they practiced skills such as suturing the aorta and ligating blood vessels, and more complex procedures such as coronary bypasses and valve replacements. Some of these procedures were timed to expose students to the pressures of surgery. Victoria says they also were exposed to the type of long days surgeons work. They got up at 6:30 a.m. and after a quick breakfast, were in the classrooms and labs until 4 p.m.

“And that is not even a long of a day compared to what a surgeon does in real life!” says Victoria. “When we got back to the dorm, we would continue to study the heart together and just stay up late talking. It was great to be around and connect with other students with the same passion.”