Written by Elizabeth Casolo, GHS class of 2021, Northwestern University class of 2025
An 18-year-old in scrubs isn’t exactly the most common sight to see, but it’s possible.
Autumn Kim—a member of Greenwich High School’s class of 2021—is the only high school or college intern currently working at the local Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) facility, an orthopedic outpatient center. The U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks HSS as the top orthopedics unit in the country. Now, a Greenwich High student works there.
“I want to go into pediatrics to help kids and their families in particular,” Autumn said. She reflected on how doctors have supported her family in the past and hopes to be there for others going through similar experiences.
“The technical side and the scientific side [of medicine] are awesome,” she said, “but being there for a family emotionally and being someone that people can trust is really important.”
Over the last few weeks, Autumn has been shadowing doctors and assisting nurses with their daily tasks.
After two weeks, she stepped into the Special Procedure Unit. She works closely with Dr. Peter Fabricant, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at HSS. By observing how Dr. Fabricant builds relationships with his patients, Autumn’s interest in pursuing pediatric surgery amplified.
During her time at HSS, Autumn primarily shadows sports injury consultations and operations.
“For pediatric orthopedic [surgery], it’s kind of all over the body,” Autumn said.
She also works alongside specialists and is learning how niche certain areas of pediatric orthopedic surgery can be.
Autumn works at HSS Monday through Thursday and spends her Fridays evaluating case studies. Autumn works overtime at the hospital when needed.
Initially, Autumn struggled with being the youngest person at the HSS center. As time went on, though, Autumn has made herself indispensable.
“A really big thing is not just doing what you’re told but anticipating people’s needs,” she said. Autumn sees herself as a “safety net” for her superiors at the hospital, helping to identify where patients are located and recalling little details. This helped her establish bonds with those working full-time at HSS.
Although Autumn is new to HSS, her medical expertise transcends the internship. As a former volunteer at Greenwich Hospital and member of Greenwich High’s acclaimed science research program, Autumn has been preparing for a health-oriented profession throughout her high school career. Her research covers various topics relating to the immune system. Research has taught her patience, something that she has applied thus far at HSS.
“They were really concerned about me passing out if I see an injection or blood,” Autumn said. “The nature of our internships are to explore a career that you’re possibly interested in.” The rigor of the pre-med track causes many students to switch to a different academic focus, so the retention of young talent in the medical field can be difficult. However, Autumn is not deterred.
“For me personally, I’d been pretty set on it… I have a direction. They [the HSS mentors] want to help me on that journey,” Autumn said.
After her internship, Autumn is excited to partake in the pre-med path at Washington University in St. Louis.
“WashU has a really great med school program, so they’ve instilled that culture into the undergrads.” Autumn hopes to leverage resources, like the MedPrep Program, to receive more guidance and facilitate her medical school admissions process. Another program enables undergraduate students to visit St. Louis Children’s Hospital at the Washington University School of Medicine.
“The culture of it is a lot more collaborative,” Autumn said. She looks forward to an education that encompasses every facet of her interest in medicine.
Although Autumn is just beginning her pre-med track, wearing scrubs symbolizes a step toward her goal of becoming a pediatric surgeon. As fate would have it, Autumn also doesn’t like to stress about picking an outfit each morning.