Nathan Suek ’17, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Nathan-SuekI left for my Princeternship in New York early in a morning shrouded in dense, white fog. As I chugged along in the dinky train, I couldn’t help but wonder what kinds of interesting things I would be able to see today. What kinds of patients? What kinds of diagnoses?

My Princeternship was at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center with Dr. Ariela Noy ‘86. My excitement grew as I continued to mull over the possibilities for the day. After an hour-long train ride, I arrived at Penn Station and experienced, for the first time, the fast-paced style of NYC. As soon as I stepped off the train, everyone was off. Unfamiliar with the local terrain, I trudged my way through bustling crowds of people, bumping into strangers as I focused on the notebook paper with a hastily drawn diagram I called my map.

It was my first experience commuting to work. After walking to the wrong subway station and a few stops downtown instead of uptown, I finally arrived at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Perfect timing. Lauren, Dr. Noy’s extremely warm and friendly assistant, greeted me. That morning, Lauren informed me, I needed to complete a few mandatory medical tests required of all employees before beginning. Adventuring from building to building to complete these tests, I couldn’t help but stop and try the local eateries and food carts as my stomach growled when lunchtime neared.

At noon, I was all cleared to go. That day was an incredibly busy day for Dr. Noy’s office. The early afternoon through late evening was filled with back to back visits with patients. I think one of the most interesting things about Dr. Noy’s work was how she combined her two backgrounds as a physician scientist together. As we continued to see patients, she sometimes commented on how the diagnosis of certain patients particularly fit her research interests. And while she let me look at several of the patient’s medical documents, I did not completely understand everything. It was interesting for me to try to piece together parts of the diagnoses as words like platelet and white blood cell count floated across the screen.

We had one patient in particular that seemed to fit Dr. Noy’s research profile perfectly. The patient had a history of both HIV and cancer. I went in to see the patient with Dr. Noy, not knowing what to expect because apparently, the cancer had gone into remission but seemed to have recently come back. Thankfully, upon Dr. Noy’s examination, everything was fine. It was great news considering that it was the patient’s marriage anniversary that day!

All in all, this Princeternship was an incredible experience being able to see how Dr. Noy blends her research with her work as a physician. For a long time, I have debated between pursuing a career in medicine versus research, but now I am sure that I won’t have to pick one over the other. It is equally interesting and rewarding to be able to do both. I am so grateful to have been able to shadow the incredible Dr. Noy. This Princeternship has definitely given me a clearer direction in the pursuit of my future career.