Geisinger Commonwealth student research project delivers surprising perks, thanks to engaged physician mentors.
Two members of Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine’s class of 2024 received an unexpected gift for their work with the Medical Honors Research Program.
Thanks to their physician mentors, second-year students Beau McCarver and Evan Bair, both interested in vascular surgery, received more than they anticipated — a sneak peek at the operating room.
The impromptu invitation to the OR sparked Mr. McCarver’s interest in vascular surgery and confirmed Mr. Bair’s. Now both students anticipate something a bit unusual in their third year — special rotations in vascular surgery, with three weeks in Danville for Mr. Bair and two weeks in Wilkes-Barre for Mr. McCarver.
“Dr. Evan Ryer and Dr. Greg Salzler were awesome about giving us that clinic time,” Mr. McCarver said. “They told us, ‘Put the research away for a few days and come see what we actually do.’”
Putting their research to work
The students’ research involves the use of ultrasound and computed tomography angiography (CTA) technology to redefine clinical criteria for diagnosing different levels of carotid artery stenosis.
They also completed a research study on the relationship between the use of drug-coated balloons or stents (DCBS), mortality rates and amputation-free survival in patients with peripheral artery disease. That led to a research paper that was published in the May 17 edition of the Annals of Vascular Surgery.
Having their work published, Mr. Bair said, brought a major sense of accomplishment (and great relief).
He accompanied Dr. Salzler to the Vascular and Endovascular Surgery Society’s (VESS) annual conference in Colorado in January, where he delivered an oral presentation on the stent research. And he learned a new skill in the process.
“Going to the conference introduced me to what such meetings are like and helped me understand what it’s like to present research,” he said. “It was in Snowmass Village, so it was also an opportunity to learn to ski — I found a new hobby.”
Finding the difference makers
The students say they’ll wrap up the carotid artery stenosis research soon. They’re considering launching a new project based on conversations from the VESS conference.
The two are especially grateful for Drs. Ryer and Salzler’s guidance.
“They are always willing to pull up a chair and talk to us about anything — questions about med school or residency,” said Mr. Bair.
Mr. McCarver notes that they couldn’t have asked for better mentors. He says the two are always willing to involve them and make him feel like he’s part of a team.