Welcome to Summer Spotlight: a new feature from Health Professions Advising (HPA) where we explore the summer experiences of our students.
Andrew Hersh ‘18 spent his sophomore summer in Israel, where he received EMT certification and worked with the Magen David Adom ambulance team.
Andrew serves as an HPA Peer Adviser and as a tutor for the McGraw Center. Andrew came to Princeton with a strong interest in medicine and biology and knew he wanted to attend medical school and pursue a career as a physician. He also wanted to embrace the liberal arts tradition at Princeton by exploring other areas of educational interest. Taking that interest to heart, he decided to pursue a concentration in economics.
Andrew has been fortunate enough to gain some great summer experience in his time here at Princeton. He has conducted research at the Institute for Pediatric Urology Research Laboratory at Weill Cornell Medicine, worked as a Research Assistant in the New York University Langone Medical Center, and worked as a volunteer for Magen David Adom, an emergency ambulance service in Israel.
Magen David Adom has a well-established summer volunteer program. Following a ten-day, 60-hour training program, Andrew was certified as a basic first responder and was able to support a team responding to emergency medical calls. While ten days of training may seem short, Andrew emphasized that the rest of the team included professions with more advanced training such as the driver and other ambulance staff.
A typical day for Andrew involved waking at 5:45am to be at the station at 6:45am for the start of his shift. He typically worked the morning shift which lasted from 7am until 3pm each day. There was also an option to work the afternoon shift from 3-11pm or the night shift from 11pm-7am. After checking in for each shift, Andrew would find his assigned driver, then check the equipment inventory in the ambulance to ensure all the equipment and supplies were stocked for the day. Once everything was ready to go, the ambulance would wait at the station until calls came in. In Jerusalem, the most populous city in Israel, calls were frequent. Calls varied, from routine hospital transfers to welfare checks on behalf of family members. Andrew was trained to provide routine pulse and blood pressure checks, which provided an opportunity to engage in limited patient care and direct patient interaction.
Andrew speaks highly of his experience with Magen David Adom. One of the most memorable parts of Andrew’s experience was not only getting to see and interact with different populations and communities in Israel. Andrew said that in Jerusalem, the ambulance service is almost used as a taxi service that drives patients to the hospital; hospital transfers were the most common calls his team would receive. Andrew and his team would often be invited into patients' homes, which provided a great opportunity to develop more personal relationships with patients and their families.
Andrew has had some amazing summer opportunities in his time at Princeton thus far. When asked if he had any advice for first- and second-years looking for summer programs to apply to, he said that going abroad was a life-changing experience, and that Princeton students should take advantage of the abroad opportunities they are offered. He acknowledged that premeds at Princeton often have difficulty finding the time to study abroad and suggested summer provides the perfect opportunity for students to go abroad that may not be able to otherwise.