Tennessee Tech students shadow doctors in Italy
Tech student Jaycie Hitt takes in the sights on a city tour as part of her study abroad in Italy.
The fall semester at Tennessee Tech University may be winding down, but a group of four students are still reflecting on their summer of a lifetime spent shadowing doctors in Italy.
Jaycie Hitt, a senior nursing major from Mount Juliet; Seth Tolbert, a senior biology major from Cookeville; Emma Grace Carter, a senior biology major from Cookeville; and Sarah Beshara, a junior biochemistry and microbiology major from La Vergne, spent two-to-three weeks abroad immersing themselves in Italian culture and completing clinical rotations at some of Italy’s best hospitals through the Doctors in Italy Fellowship Program.
Launched in 2018, the fellowship aims to “create a generation of healthcare professionals who share the vision of a world where language and culture are not barriers in healthcare.” It invites aspiring healthcare professionals to shadow doctors and surgeons while sightseeing in Rome, Milan, Florence, Genoa and other notable cities.
For Hitt, who aspires to become a cardiac intensive care unit nurse after graduation from Tech, the study abroad opportunity was another way that Tech puts students first.
Tech student Sarah Beshara is shown third from left at the Arco della Vittoria in Genoa, Italy.
“Being a student at Tennessee Tech has allowed me to gain opportunities I never thought I would have,” said Hitt. “I know that I would not have taken the leap to go to Italy if it was not for the program Tech offers. I have always felt that I could make all my dreams come true here.”
Tolbert, who plans to enroll in dental school after completing his undergraduate studies, recalled being able to see sights like the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain and the Roman Forum. Still, he said the best part of the experience was being able to bond with his peers.
“The most rewarding parts of my trip were the memories and friendships I made within the program,” said Tolbert. “Several of the students came from different backgrounds and parts of the country, and getting to bond over our passion for medicine was something I’ll never let go of.”
Beshara, who also plans to enter dentistry, said that the fellowship gave her the opportunity to assist with an oral surgery.
Tech students Jaycie Hitt (second from left) and Emma Carter (second from right) scrub in to assist with surgery at an Italian hospital.
“The entire time, I could only think of how much pain relief the patient would feel after they healed and how, one day, my job would be to provide that kind of relief,” said Beshara. “I will truly never forget this.”
She adds that study abroad programs are among the many opportunities at Tech that set it apart – another being the faculty in the chemistry department.
“They are welcoming, student-centered and willing to let students join their research projects as early as freshman year,” added Beshara.
Carter, who plans to return to school to get her accelerated Bachelor of Science in nursing after graduating this December, said the study abroad program helped her remember why she was passionate about the medical field.
“Italy was somewhere I had always wanted to visit,” said Carter. “After talking with Amy Miller in Tech’s study abroad office, I knew this program would be a great educational experience in the medical field while getting to explore the beautiful country of Italy.”
While the Tech students who traveled to Italy all say they came away with meaningful learning experiences and lifelong memories, Nadia Neytcheva, CEO and co-founder of the Doctors in Italy Fellowship Program, adds that the program benefited from Tech’s students, too.
“Jaycie, Seth, Sarah and Emma performed their duties with excellence during their time in our fellowship program. They will make outstanding healthcare professionals and will continue to represent Tennessee Tech well,” said Neytcheva. “We value our partnership with Tennessee Tech and know we can count on the university to send us hardworking, dedicated students who are eager to learn and grow their understanding of other cultures.”
According to Tech Provost Lori Mann Bruce, 155 Tech students studied abroad during the spring and summer of 2023, visiting countries such as Belgium, Costa Rica, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Japan, Netherlands, Peru, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and others.
Learn more about study abroad opportunities at Tech by visiting www.tntech.edu/studyabroad.