Princeternship Stories: Korlekuor Akiti ’19, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

My Princeternship with Dr. Jeffrey Katz at Brigham & Women’s Hospital (BWH) was truly an invaluable experience. Going into the visit, I was very unsure about my interest in pursuing medicine as a career. However, I quickly came to realize that my understanding of the field of medicine was so much narrower than the reality. Through talking with Dr. Katz and his team, sitting in on meetings and observing clinic, I got a glimpse of a side of medicine that I had never seen before. I knew I was interested in research going into this experience, but after talking with several Research Assistants in Dr. Katz’s lab, I am now seriously considering serving as an RA during my glide year(s).

I am shocked at how much I was able to experience in less than 48 short hours. My first day began by sitting in on a rheumatology case conference with Dr. Katz and several of his colleagues at BWH and Mass Gen. I then had a chance to speak with Harvard Medical School student who is taking time off after his third year to work as an RA for Dr. Katz. It was extremely informative to hear about his path to medical school and how his experiences have prepared him for the work he is doing today.

After speaking with several other RAs, I sat in on a Skype call with Dr. Katz and a team in the Netherlands about a paper that they are in the process of publishing. After lunch, we listened to a visiting speaker at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and ended the day with a meeting regarding an activity on sexual assault on campuses that he is coordinating.

The next morning, we attended Medicine Grand Rounds and listened to the distinguished Dr. Neil Powe of UCSF speak about disparities in renal disease and the disproportionate effect that this has on the African American population. Afterword, we headed straight to the clinic where Dr. Katz saw seven different patients (before lunch) with varying types and degrees of arthritis.

I was so impressed by the work environment of Dr. Katz’s lab and the hospital as a whole. The team culture was so strong and everyone, from the youngest intern to the oldest and most decorated doctor, had a voice and was respected. I was also surprised to learn that only a few RAs had any experience or training specific to epidemiology or rheumatology before working in the lab. Rather, the other lab members taught them as they went and they learned through experience.

I would certainly recommend, in fact, urge, other students to take advantage of the Princeternship program. It was an incredible experience and a wonderful opportunity to get to know a very successful Princeton alumnus. I am so incredibly grateful for everyone at Princeton and BWH, especially Dr. Katz, who helped make my visit such a success.