Medical Fellowship in Spain Helps Kyra Valent Confirm Career Path

Lebanon Valley College provides many opportunities to students. However, the challenge remains for students to actually seize these high-impact experiences for themselves. During the past four years, Kyra Valent ’17 is one student who has worked to take advantage of all Lebanon Valley has to offer.

When selecting a college to pursue a health profession, Lebanon Valley College had everything Valent was seeking in an undergraduate program. “I heard about how great the science program and faculty is, and I was drawn to the small class sizes, which allowed for more student-professor interactions that are very helpful when applying to medical school,” she notes. “The small lab sizes allow for more hands-on work, which led to me getting to do the lab work. This, in turn, enabled me to understand and learn better through the lab exercises.”

Valent found that her classes pushed her to be able to apply the skills she learned in the classroom, not just perform to pass a test. They challenged her to invest time in learning the material and critically thinking about real-world applications for the information covered during her daily lectures.

An understanding of these connections helped prepare Valent for her fellowship with the Atlantis Project in Ourense, Spain. Faculty and staff also helped Valent develop some of the professional skills necessary to apply for the program, particularly through the College’s Health Professions Committee, which guides students interested in pursuing post-graduate degrees in medicine and other health-related fields.

“Lebanon Valley College has helped prepare me for internships and fellowships by assisting me with things such as creating a résumé, writing a cover letter, and preparing for an interview, all things I had never done before coming here,” she says.

The three-week long fellowship in Spain allowed Valent to shadow doctors in the specialties of urology, pediatrics, hematology, and psychiatry, and provided her with the opportunity to observe several specialties that she would not be able to see in the United States.

“My first day in the hospital, I saw several urology surgeries from right in the operating room, which was amazing because I had never observed a surgery, let alone from in the actual OR. The doctors would even point out particular things during the surgery. They were friendly and eager to help me learn about medicine,” Valent recalls.

Valent had several meaningful experiences during her time abroad, however, she cites her time shadowing a pediatrician in the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) as the most impactful. 

For her, this experience confirmed that being a doctor was the career she wanted to follow. “My week in the NICU was the most impactful thing to me because I wasn’t entirely sure that I would enjoy pediatrics, but I ended up loving every minute of it,” Valent says. “It was interesting to see how the doctors treated babies because, unlike older patients, they can’t tell the doctor what symptoms they are experiencing. Also, getting to be there for three different emergency C-section births and watching the pediatrician spring into action to care for the baby the minute it enters the world was phenomenal.”

After returning from Spain, Valent continued pursuing other immersive experiences that would help her succeed as a future medical professional. This April, she presented on research conducted with Dr. Kristen Boeshore, associate professor of biology, at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR). Together they examined how different treatments of cell differentiation factors can affect cell proliferation and neuroblastoma cell lines.

“This work continues Dr. Boeshore’s previous research alongside Dr. Dovat at Penn State Hershey. He provided the neuroblastoma cell lines for the experiment,” she explains. 

As a senior, Valent is applying to medical schools. While many future graduates may find this process daunting, Valent feels that the College has equipped her with the skills necessary to take these next steps.

“LVC has helped me prepare to continue my education in medical school by helping me be aware about opportunities such as the Atlantis Project, which gave me a lot of exposure to the medical field and confirmed my desire to pursue a career in medicine,” she says.