Clinical Trials

For a decade, an intensive shadowing program at Florida Hospital has helped prepare Rollins undergrads for careers in medicine.

Brandon McNichol ’18 (Photo by Scott Cook | Illustration by Cliff Manspeaker) Brandon McNichol ’18 (Photo by Scott Cook | Illustration by Cliff Manspeaker)

Lauryn Falcone ’13 will never forget the pregnant woman who showed up at the emergency room with a mysterious purple rash on her extremities.

Falcone carefully watched events unfold that tense January day as a senior participating in Rollins’ Pre-Med Observership Program. Standing alongside Florida Hospital doctors and University of Central Florida medical students, she gained valuable firsthand experience in a profession that soon became her calling.

What caused it? Could her baby be in danger? How about the health of others?

Doctors took every precaution and scrambled to find answers, eventually settling on a diagnosis of Neisseria meningitidis. Fortunately, this highly contagious bacterial infection was also highly treatable. After some antibiotics and a stint in the airborne isolation unit, mother and child would be OK.

“That was a real eye-opener for me, and it planted a seed,” says Falcone. “It was the first time I thought seriously about how the skin can tell us so much about the body. It was a ‘wow’ moment that made me consider this for a career.”

Falcone will start her residency in dermatology next year at West Virginia University, where she has attended the School of Medicine since summer 2013. As a candidate in the dual-degree MD/PhD program, Falcone splits her time between labs, research, and working at a branch of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, studying the toxicity of welding fumes. On track to graduate in 2020, she plans to conduct clinical and translational research, with the ultimate goal of teaching in a large academic environment.

For Falcone and many students like her, the medical journey might culminate at a big hospital or university—but it all began at a small liberal arts school in Winter Park.

Clinical Trials

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