Princeternship Stories: Jaein Jung ’20, Massachusetts General Hospital

Meeting Dr. Sundt and the Cardiac Surgery team at Massachusetts General Hospital was one of the most amazing moments of my life. Although the internship was only two days, I learned so much about the field of medicine and the importance of passion, communication and knowledge. I am so grateful to be able to have this wonderful experience.

Before this Princeternship, I was a bit unsure of my future career. I knew for sure that I wanted to pursue medicine and that I will eventually go to medical school, but I was not as confident about whether or not I wanted to a be surgeon. This mindset completely changed after meeting Dr. Sundt. He showed me the daily life of a surgeon and the fast-paced world of healthcare. It was exhilarating, and I fell completely in love with the profession. While one could tell how stressful and tiring it could be, I knew that this is exactly what I pictured my future to be.

One thing that I learned was how broad medicine was. Yes, there are surgeries, patient interaction and prescribing medication, but there are so many aspects of medicine that many don’t often think about. For example, the operation that I saw was using a man-made root part which was specifically engineered to withstand blood vessels. Another factor of medicine is philosophy and ethics. Dr. Sundt was part of a bioethics seminar at Harvard Medical School, and their discussion was weighty and eye-opening. Due to confidentiality, I cannot talk about what was the topic, but it showed me the burden that many doctors have to carry when dealing with human life and death. Nevertheless, I was still in awe by the collaboration between the many doctors, technicians, nurses and staff.

The golden moment of the Princeternship was the open heart surgery that I was able to watch in the operation room. The doctors and nurses were so focused; it was truly inspiring. After repairing the heart, they helped the heart start beating again and when it did, I honestly teared up. It was such a beautiful moment, and I didn’t even notice that the procedure took five hours! The environment wasn’t cold or tense either. They had music playing, and Dr. Sundt was helping to keep the mood light by involving his peers and us in conversations, all while maintaining attention on the operation.

Dr. Sundt was also an inspirational person in general. As the chief, he told us how important it was for newcomers to adjust to the hospital’s culture and that it can often be challenging on both parties to find even ground. However, Dr. Sundt talked about how he wanted to make the operation rooms at Mass General a much more open environment. He also noted on how diversity is also important and that different personality types are needed to give patients the ultimate care. I could not agree with him more.

I was so impressed by how well-organized this Princeternship was and I look forward to the work of Mass General and Dr. Sundt. I am also really grateful for Dr. Sundt answering my many questions about being a surgeon. These two days gave me incredible insight on the world of cardiac medicine and being a surgeon at a big research hospital. I couldn’t be more excited about my future.