Diary of an MSTAR Student
Diary of an MSTAR Student

The MSTAR Program encourages medical students to consider a career in academic geriatrics by providing summer research and training opportunities. Follow these students as they journey through new experiences in the lab, classroom, and clinic.  Click here to read entries from previous years.

Diary of an MSTAR Student: Sung (Richard) Park

Aug 2
11:08 am

Diary of an MSTAR Student: Sung (Richard) Park View MoreBACK

Posted by Gemma Martinelli


Home Institution: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

MSTAR Site: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Several weeks prior to the beginning of my MSTAR experience, my mentor spoke with me about what I can expect to gain from my summer research.  I was promised ample opportunity to learn from the best geriatricians, many hours of patient contact, and new insights into what it’s like to conduct clinical research.  Looking back at my time as an MSTAR student, I am happy to say that I experienced all of the above and much more.  Through this diary entry, I aim to reflect on what I really gained from my work with Dr. Philip Sloane and what parts of my experience were most precious to me.  I hope to convey to the great experience I had as an MSTAR student at UNC Chapel Hill.

One of the most useful skills I developed through my summer research was a newfound confidence in my ability to interact and connect with patients.  As a first-year medical student, I often had difficulty hiding my nervousness during a patient encounter.  However, I found that approaching patients and asking them for 10 minutes of their time to participate in my foot care study was the perfect opportunity to practice communicating effectively.  I imagined how bothersome an unexpected foot examination by a medical student could be for a patient who had already waited a long time to meet with his or her physician.  From that point onward, I pushed myself to enter each exam room with confidence, a bright smile, and a kind tone that conveyed compassion and empathy.  When I put myself in the patient’s shoes, I was able to visualize the characteristics a care provider would need to foster an effective connection with the patient.

As an MSTAR student, I enjoyed my summer working with inspiring physicians and getting to know many wonderful patients.  I also learned a lot from interacting with my tight-knit research team.  My partner Samantha Sabban worked with me closely throughout the summer, and we went through a lot together.  I still remember how distraught we both were when we had only managed to perform one foot examination on our first day in the clinic.  Each time one of us were turned away by a patient that day, the other could immediately tell what had happened from across the room.  We soon learned that gaining consent from prospective research participants could be a matter of feast or famine.  However, Samantha and I were always there to support and encourage one another.  We were also very lucky to have found such a supportive mentor in Dr. Sloane and his staff member Ms. Kimberly Ward.  The four of us formed a strong team, all the while sharing each of our challenges and triumphs throughout our MSTAR experience.

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