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Atlantis students leaving an area of the hospital after shadowing a procedure (Athens, Greece, 2019).


Atlantis Shadowing: One Pre-Med Writes a Review

Marissa profile

About Marissa

Marissa is a recent graduate of Clemson University where she received her B.S. in Health Sciences. During the summer of 2019, Marissa participated in the Atlantis shadowing program in Trento, Italy, and now works as an Alumni Representative with the company. She is currently applying to medical school where she hopes to become a primary care physician.

During my sophomore year of college, I felt lost. I knew that I wanted to become a doctor, but I struggled to feel the passion towards medicine that my peers shared. Throughout that year, I searched and searched for opportunities that would give me that “a-ha” moment. It was during this time that my advisor suggested that I look into Atlantis. He knew that as much as I needed to gain exposure into healthcare, I was also looking for any excuse to travel abroad. Maybe he knew that it would take being thousands of miles away from home in a foreign country for me to figure out what I truly wanted with medicine. 

Choosing Shadowing Abroad

In many ways, my advisor was right. In the summer of 2019, I traveled to Trento, Italy, to spend four weeks shadowing at Santa Chiara Hospital. Each week, I observed a different field of surgery – ranging from general to neuro to cardiovascular. Since I was still trying to figure out where my interests in medicine were, I was excited for the opportunity to watch a variety of different surgeries. However, even though I didn’t know what I liked in medicine, I quickly learned what I did not like. Oddly enough, and much to the surprise of my peers, I realized that I did not want to pursue a career in surgery. For me, I was not interested in the procedures or fancy equipment that they were using. Instead, I realized that I was much more excited for the rounds we would make in the mornings and evenings of our shift, where the surgeon would spend time talking to the patients. My favorite part of the day was when all of the surgeons would get together in a conference room to discuss cases and what the best treatment protocol would be. Every case felt like a puzzle, and I became determined to figure out the solution with them.

My shadowing experience with Atlantis not only showed me what I did not want, but it also introduced me to a city that helped me grow. Located at the base of the Dolomite mountains, Trento was small and quaint. I quickly fell in love with the slow pace and kind people who reminded me of my home in South Carolina. I interacted with people who had different perspectives and beliefs in regards to healthcare. Through this engagement, I started to critically think about the U.S. healthcare system by comparing and contrasting the ways that we provide care to patients. This experience showed me that there are alternative approaches to medicine that are worth considering so that patients are provided with the best options for care. Additionally, I was able to learn a great deal from the other Atlantis students. Each student came from a different part of the United States and had their own thoughts on healthcare that I was eager to understand so that I could further develop my own beliefs. Being able to communicate and collaborate with those different from me was a strong skill that I developed during my time abroad with Atlantis.

What I Took Away for Shadowing Abroad

For the first time, I didn’t feel as strong of a weight on my shoulders. I was beyond happy, as this decision made me realize I was one step closer to finding what I was passionate about. Atlantis encouraged me to be open and patient, reassuring me that there are better opportunities yet to come. Without Atlantis, I truly believe that my path through medicine would have been very different. As I am currently applying to medical school, I can confidently say that I have talked about Atlantis in every application. Even though I did not find my area of interest until after I left Atlantis, I did have my a-ha moment because of Atlantis. The experience forever changed the way I view medicine and for that I will always be grateful for my time as an Atlantis fellow.    

Cover of the Medical School Admissions Guide.

Two Atlantis alumni admitted to Top 5 MD programs wrote our widely read medical school admissions guidebook guidebook — download yours.

Our Alumni Enter Great Medical Schools

John Daines headshot.

John Daines

  • Atlantis '17
  • Brigham Young University '19
  • Washington U. in St. Louis MD '23
Zoey Petitt headshot.

Zoey Petitt

  • Atlantis '17
  • U. of Arizona '18
  • Duke MD '23
Yong hun Kim headshot.

Yong-hun Kim

  • Atlantis '17
  • Stanford '19
  • Mayo Clinic MD '24
Megan Branson headshot.

Megan Branson

  • Atlantis '18
  • U. of Montana '19
  • U. of Washington MD '24
Sarah Emerick headshot.

Sarah Emerick

  • Atlantis '19
  • Eckerd College '20
  • Indiana U. MD '25
Snow Nwankwo headshot.

Snow Nwankwo

  • Atlantis '19
  • Catholic U. of America '21
  • Georgetown U. MD '26
Tiffany Hu headshot.

Tiffany Hu

  • Atlantis '16
  • U. of Maryland '17
  • U. of Michigan MD '22
Lauren Cox headshot.

Lauren Cox

  • Atlantis '18
  • Louisiana Tech '20
  • U. of Arkansas MD '24
Kayla Riegler headshot.

Kayla Riegler

  • Atlantis '18
  • U. of Kentucky '20
  • U. of Kentucky MD '24

About Atlantis

Atlantis is the leader in pre-health shadowing and clinical experience, offering short-term programs (1-10 weeks) over academic breaks for U.S. pre-health undergraduates. Medical schools want 3 things: (1)healthcare exposure, (2)GPA/MCAT, and (3)certain competencies. Atlantis gives you a great version of (1), frees you to focus on (2), and cultivates/shows (3) to medical school admissions committees.

A student smiling and learning how to kayak.

Watch Video: The Atlantis Shadowing Experience and How it Helps In Your Med/PA Admissions Future

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Cover of the Medical School Admissions Guide.
Two Atlantis alumni admitted to Top 5 MD programs wrote our widely read medical school admissions guidebook — download yours.