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  • Pre-med, Exercise Science Student Finds Career Affirmation Abroad

Pre-med, Exercise Science Student Finds Career Affirmation Abroad

Kaitlin Morse credits her study abroad experience with gaining unique experience in a variety of specialties.
Story by Joel Mathis

Sometimes, a single lecture in a single class can open up the whole world to a student.

That’s what happened to Kaitlin Morse, a KU Edwards Campus senior in pre-med and exercise science from Georgia. She spent last summer at a hospital in Spain, shadowing staff and studying medical care there — an opportunity that came about thanks to a guest speaker in one of her pre-med classes.

"I thought it would be a fantastic way to get some hospital experience and also spend some time in other cultures,” Morse said of her time abroad. “It was perfect."

In fall 2016, Morse was a student in the Methods of Strength and Conditioning course taught by Ashley Herda, Ph.D. One day, the guest speaker was Alexis Jones, then the associate director of KU Study Abroad. Jones highlighted Project Atlantis, a program that introduces pre-med students to health care systems around the world — and Morse was hooked.

She applied to the program and ended up in Madrid, at the HM Puerta del Sur hospital, spending six weeks shadowing medical staff in a variety of specialties — surgery, anesthesia, pediatrics, cardiology and internal medicine. "We basically followed the doctors every day," she said.

But Morse also gained hands-on experience.Kaitlin Morse, second from left in the back row, poses with classmates in front of the Templo de Debod in Madrid, Spain, during her trip abroad in summer 2017.

“I learned the proper way to examine a patient — if you were to palpate their stomach to see if they're experiencing pain, you start away from the expected location and gradually move closer,” she said. “I learned to listen to lungs to see if there's any fluid in them."

As a result, Morse said, she’s more devoted than ever to her career path.

"I really enjoyed it,” she said. "It has strengthened my resolve to get into medicine."

Herda said the experience should give Morse a leg up when she applies to medical school.

“She has that experience that most typical applicants wouldn't have,” Herda said of Morse.

Students who participate in the study abroad program get “an edge on seeing a worldly perspective of medicine,” Herda added. “They see how those clinics and hospitals operate differently than U.S. facilities.”

"It has definitely made me more dedicated,” Morse said.

The exercise science program at KU Edwards offers a strong foundation for graduate-level work in the life sciences, and includes a strong core of basic science courses in biology, chemistry, and physics. Learn more about the program here. Find out more about Project Atlantis here.