Mazen Abunasra ’23 and Stratton Pratt ’23 – Opportunities in Health and Medicine
Students who carry out an Advanced Independent Project often fall into two categories: those who are exploring potential career opportunities, and those who already know their desired career and are trying to get a head start on that path. Mazen Abunasra ’23 and Stratton Pratt ’23 fall into the latter category.
“I’ve always wanted to go into the medical field, I just wasn’t sure exactly what to focus on. I’ve been leaning toward becoming a surgeon, and this AIP just furthered that desire,” Mazen says.
“I didn’t start seriously pursuing interests in the medical field until I enrolled at Avon,” Stratton says. “Ever since then, I’ve looked for any hands-on opportunity I can find. Avon has been very accommodating and helpful in that regard.”
Through the AIP program, and a partnership between Avon Old Farms and Hartford Healthcare, Mazen and Stratton have had access to the renowned Center for Education, Simulation and Innovation (CESI) at Hartford Hospital.
“Doctors come from around the country for the opportunity to get experience at CESI,” Mazen says. “There was a doctor from Texas learning with me while I was there.”
“It’s an experience you could normally only get as a collegiate med-student or practicing doctor,” Stratton adds.
Stratton began the program in the summer and was joined by Mazen early in the fall. They both travel to CESI multiple times a week, with varying experiences each visit. Their tasks have included prepping the surgery center, learning how to navigate the monitors used by doctors, controlling the anesthesia, training with surgical students, practicing CPR, stitching up wounds, shadowing bone replacements, and practicing delivering babies.
“One day I actually served as a patient for medical students practicing ultrasounds—with gel and everything,” Stratton says. “That was really cool because I’m interested in anatomy.”
“I actually got to feel a real human heart. I was surprised to get a hands-on experience rather than observe behind glass,” Mazen says.
In early January, Mazen and Stratton shared their experience with students and faculty, encouraging others to take advantage of this opportunity. “That was an incredible experience, free learning,” Stratton says. “We were treated like any other med student.”
During their presentation, some members of the audience were a bit grossed out by just how comprehensive the experience was, particularly the fact Mazen and Stratton worked up-close with blood, organs, and cadavers.
“I knew it was disgusting, but I didn’t really care because I realized what kind of an opportunity I had,” Mazen says. “Not many other people my age have this opportunity.”
Both seniors, Mazen and Stratton are in the process of applying to colleges, with both planning on pursuing degrees in pre-med or a similar field. “This is definitely something I can put on my college applications,” Mazen says.