Healing Process

View from behind of four doctors in hospital corridor walking away from camera.


Pagers beeping, moments of chaos and calm, staff assisting patients. This scene greets University of San Diego students in the Scripps Mercy Trauma Internship program. Originating through a collaboration between USD alumna Jessica Kahl ‘10 and Scripps Mercy Hospital physicians Steven Shackford and Michael Sise, the inaugural course was offered in Fall 2010. Since then, the program has continued to provide pre-medical students from USD with a close look at doctor-patient relationships at a leading health care institution.

“There’s nothing like the anticipation of walking into the trauma bay,” says Madeline Nottoli, a biology major at USD. “Not only did I observe medical procedures performed right in front of me, but I had doctors of all ages and positions explaining to me what was happening.”

Open to juniors and seniors, this opportunity is available through the College of Arts and Sciences and is coordinated by Cassandra Gomez, USD’S director of pre-health advising, Michael Ichiyama, an associate professor with the department of psychological sciences, and Shackford and Sise, who are leading surgeons with Scripps Health.

Ichiyama, the program’s internship advisor, credits the latter pair with developing this unique opportunity for students.

“The Scripps internship, which involves a formal collaboration between a liberal arts institution and a local medical center, is specifically designed to provide a practical learning experience for undergraduate pre-med students,” he says. “It’s the only one of its kind in the country.”

For Jessica Paul, who is studying behavioral neuroscience, the program is an opportunity for her to give back to the community.

“It’s an especially important program for the Changemaker mission of USD, because Scripps Mercy Hospital receives patients from low-income populations, patients who don’t have insurance, patients who may be from across the border or without U.S. citizenship,” she says.

For Shackford, the ultimate benefit is that students are taking what they learn and applying it in their lives. “The program helps to spread the Catholic mission of the Sisters of Mercy among USD students.” — Allyson Meyer ‘16

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