F&M Stories

Forging the Path for Those Who Come Next

Franklin & Marshall College's True Blue Network connects a student to an alumnus and the internship of his dreams.

"Look at who you want to be, find that person, and ask them how they got where they are."

This advice from Dr. Michael Fishman '05, M.D., is exactly how Curtis Mark '23 discovered his profile on the True Blue Network. As an aspiring anesthesiologist, Mark had been searching for Franklin & Marshall College alumni in the field with whom he could connect.

"I found Dr. Fishman's profile and thought, 'Wow, this guy is really cool,'" Mark said.

He was intrigued and inspired by Fishman's career, as he's not only the director of research at the Center for Interventional Pain and Spine (CIPS), but is also a double board-certified anesthesiologist and pain medicine specialist. Mark sent Fishman a private message introducing himself and what he's interested in—a leap of faith that landed him an internship at CIPS.

Since onboarding, Mark has been shadowing patient visits and surgeries, learning about patient charts and how to include notes, learning how to read medications, and getting insight into CIPS studies on chronic pain. He even began his own research study on a topic he always found fascinating: phantom limb pain, which is when patients report feeling pain in a limb even after it has been removed.

"The idea is to really engage him and help him learn how to ask questions and how to answer them in the real world," Fishman said. He added that by the end of Mark's internship, he'll likely add 10 to 15 clinical studies listed on ClinicalTrials.gov and a number of publications to his resume.

"All these things I've never experienced before I'm getting to learn about," Mark said. "Being submerged in this environment is really giving me that other component of a liberal arts education I came to F&M for."

Fishman is equally enthusiastic about the liberal arts model of teaching and learning. He said the value placed on independent research, the development of self-direction and autonomy, and even the social aspects combine to give students the skills they need to find success in a chosen career path. Adding mentorship to the equation makes for an even more well-rounded experience, he said.

"Think about who has walked the path before and how you can learn from their mistakes," he said. "By reaching out to seek advice, internship opportunities can then present themselves organically."

When it comes to finding the right match, Fishman urges students to use the connections and resources available at F&M. Simply talking to professors, College House dons and deans and peers is a great first step, he said.

Mark credits the Office of Student and Post-Graduate Development (OSPGD) and the True Blue Network for guiding him to his opportunity with Fishman and subsequent internship at CIPS.

"I really do encourage people to sign up for the True Blue Network and to reach out to OSPGD," he said. "The resources available at F&M have been great."

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