I arrived at Texas Children’s Hospital on the first day of my Princeternship experience with Dr. Debra Palazzi ’92, excited for the days to come. Before we began our day with rounds, we discussed the planned schedule for the week, and I also had the opportunity to hear more about Dr. Palazzi’s experiences at Princeton, clinical and teaching work in pediatric infectious diseases, research, and career path.
Throughout my Princeternship, I was also fortunate to work with Dr. Palazzi’s team, which included Dr. Lindsay Hatzenbuehler and Leigh Sweet (fellows), Cristina Lilagan (resident), and Ravi Raju (intern). Being able to learn from doctors in all stages of medical training was a fantastic opportunity. I am grateful to Dr. Palazzi and her team for not only taking the time to explain the various cases we saw but also sharing their experiences and answering my questions about medical school, the process of becoming a doctor, and choosing a specialty.
I had the opportunity to see many interesting and complicated cases during rounds. Dr. Palazzi and her team see patients in a variety of departments in the hospital, including the NICU, Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, and the Orthopedics center. The cases we saw were therefore very diverse, ranging from neonatal HSV to patients with osteomyelitis, pyelonephritis, and orbital cellulitis. I also had the chance to visit the labs for micro-rounds, where I learned more about the process of identifying bacteria from tests and cultures.
I was surprised by the huge role of teamwork in medicine. During rounds, Dr. Palazzi and her team analyzed the conditions and treatments of every patient. Each offered ideas, questions, and suggestions, which were then followed by intense discussion. I was extremely impressed with the depth of their knowledge and experience, as well as their skill in clearly expressing ideas. The importance of teamwork and sharing ideas was further highlighted in the conferences I was able to attend. At both a fellow’s case conference and citywide conference, doctors presented unusual cases and findings to their colleagues. I also attended a presentation on pediatric environmental health and lead exposure. Through these experiences, I saw that working in the medical field involves ongoing learning and collaboration.
I would describe my Princeternship with Dr. Palazzi as incredibly immersive, eye-opening, and probably one of the most rewarding experiences of my academic career. I learned more about pediatric medicine and the medical training process and workplace environment. My Princeternship definitely reinforced my interest in this career field, and I would very much recommend the Princeternship Program to my peers. I came away from this experience excited and inspired to continue to pursue my goal of becoming a physician. Dr. Palazzi continuously amazed me with her ability to problem-solve, analyze situations from all possible angles, and connect with her patients and their families. I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to learn from someone who displays true dedication to her work. To say that Dr. Palazzi cares about children is a gross understatement; her compassion for her patients is unparalleled. With her thoroughness, attention to detail, kindness, and acute mind, Dr. Palazzi is an amazing doctor, educator, and role model.