Panel sheds light on “Grey” areas

A panel of five Binghamton University alumni separated the facts from fictions about medical school Friday during “Grey’s Anatomy vs. Reality 2012.”

The physician panelists answered the questions of over 70 students thinking about a career in medicine as part of a series of panels held at the start of Homecoming Weekend.

Topics for the panel ranged from choosing the right school to balancing personal life with work. Panelists also discussed the Affordable Care Act and the importance of good grades and experience.

One of the main topics the panel focused on was the realities of medical school and residencies.

Dr. Anita Sargnet, a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, said she considered her residency worth it despite the difficulty.

“While residency was hard, I would still do it again to get where I am now,” said Sargent, class of ‘01.

Dr. Raymond Gilbert compared the reality of residencies to the glamorized versions found on shows like “Grey’s Anatomy.”

“There’s a lot less sex than in the show,” he said.

Another major topic covered by the panelists was the high costs of medical school.

Dr. Joshua Usen, a physician, said students should not let the cost stop them.

“Don’t let that screw you,” said, Usen class of ‘92. “Pay it off, refinance, do whatever you have to do.”

Usen also suggested that students aim for schools with lower tuitions.

“Unless you get into Harvard or any Ivy medical school, just go to a state school,” he said.

One student asked when the panelists decided what they would specialize in.

Dr. John Bisognano, a cardiologist, advised students to stick with what they know.

“I felt I had a special intelligence in biology and I never really resisted it,” said Bisognano, class of ‘92. “I just sort of went with something I was comfortable with.”

Usen also emphasized the importance of finding a niche.

“If you don’t like blood and chaos, but you do like helping people, there’s so much else you can do in the medical field,” he said.

The panelists discussed the balance between a job you want and a job that pays well.

Dr. Adam Fox, the moderator for the panel and a trauma surgeon who graduated from Binghamton in 1982, said it is unrealistic to look at a job just for the salary.

“Ultimately speaking, becoming a physician is like going into any other career,” Fox said. “You have to look at what you want to do. If you’re doing it for the money, the time to be a physician was 1980.”

Michelle Jones, an academic adviser in the Harpur Academic Advising office, said that the panel was designed to show the options in the field of medicine.

“All five of the physician panelists came from very different academic and professional backgrounds,” Jones wrote in an email. “They all wanted to let the students know that medicine is a very diverse field and there’s room and specialties for people with all different interests, talents and experience.”

Daniela Jimenez, a junior majoring in integrative neuroscience, thought the panel was very straightforward.

“I liked how the alumni in the panel gave use the brutal truth about being a physician,” Jimenez said. “The advice the panelists gave was also very helpful. I found the whole thing overall to be interesting and well executed.”

The panel was a kick-off to a lecture series titled “The Day in the Life of a Physician,” which was initiated by Fox, according to Jones.

“Many of the panelists, such as Drs. Adam Fox, Anita Sargent and Josh Usen will be coming back this semester and spring 2013 to present to our BU pre-health students on their own specific journey to and through medical school and what life is really like as a physician,” Jones said.