Summer Research Scholarship in Neurosurgery Preps Students for Career in Medicine

The Miller School’s Summer Research Scholarship In Neurosurgery for Medical Students offers engaging clinical and research experiences.

Summer Research Scholarship In Neurosurgery
(From left) Kayla Etienne, Benjamin Klein and Adrienne Minor

Watching neurosurgery procedures has inspired Adrienne Minor as she looks ahead to a career in medicine.

“I have read about deep brain stimulation techniques, but being able to see the procedure itself is simply amazing,” said Minor, a second-year medical student at the University of South Carolina at Greenville. “One patient had a severe tremor in his hands, but once the device was inserted and turned on, his hand was steady. I can’t imagine learning neurosurgery without physically being here.”

Minor was one of three students who benefited from the Summer Research Scholarship in Neurosurgery for Medical Students at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine — a multi-institutional program to engage talented students from backgrounds underrepresented in medicine.

“Seeing family members who suffered strokes has been one of the driving forces for my interest in neurosurgery,” she said. As a master’s degree student at Duke University, Minor learned how surgical interventions could change the lives of children with epilepsy. “There is so much to learn about the brain, and this program has given me a perfect opportunity,” she said.

Expanding the Neurosurgery Talent Pipeline

Since its launch five years ago at the Miller School, the summer program has expanded to seven institutions, and will grow to 14 next year.

“Because each neurosurgery program has limited mentoring capacity, we want to cast a big net, creating more opportunities to expose undergraduates to neurosurgery,” said Allan Levi, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chairman of neurosurgery, chief of neurosurgery at Jackson Memorial Hospital and the Robert M. Buck Distinguished Chair in Neurological Surgery. “This summer training program can make a difference by expanding our talent pipeline.”

Benjamin Klein, a second-year student at the University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences, has high praise for the program and for his mentor, Dr. Levi.

“I have spent numerous days with him in the clinic, seeing unique cases and applying my classroom knowledge, and taken part in several research projects,” Klein said. “This immersive program solidified my passion to contribute to the field academically as a researcher and has fueled my ambition to become a phenomenal surgeon in the future.”

For Kayla Entienne, who will be a first-year medical student at Tufts University this fall, the summer program was another step on her plans to become the first physician in her family and join the only 33 Black women neurosurgeons in the country.

“I’ve wanted to do neurosurgery with a focus on pediatrics since high school,” said Entienne, who earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Miami. “This program has given me lots of insights from observing different surgeries and researching treatment options for traumatic brain injuries and tangled blood vessels.”

But that’s just the start of what Etienne has learned from the Miller School program.

“Neurosurgery involves a lot more than taking out a brain tumor,” she said. “The physician has to explain the situation to patients and family members. Feeling that someone cares about you can make a big difference in the overall patient experience.”

Tags: Department of Neurological Surgery, Dr. Allan Levi, neurosurgery, summer, Summer Medical Scholars Program, Summer Research Scholarship