Student Story Elizabeth Mannino

Meet Elizabeth Mannino

Biology, 2016

Current Position: Student at Eastern Virginia Medical School

Story Last Updated: September 2019
Current Position Updated: September 2019

GMercyU Experience

I remember the first day of orientation I was so nervous while packing up the car to move in but once I got here and started the activities, I felt really comfortable. I was quickly able to make friends that first day and I realized people that go to Gwynedd Mercy University are very similar to me. I realized that everyone is going through what I was going through and I used that to bond with other people.

Dr. Michelle McEliece was one of the first professors that I met at GMercyU during my senior year of high school. She became my advisor and has had a really huge impact on me. She always encouraged me to challenge myself to do bigger and better things and has been a huge support system. Dr. Felcia Barbieri was my pre-medical advisor. She helped me through all of my medical school applications, letters of recommendation, and helped me prepare for the MCAT exam. Both of them were also my thesis advisors so I spent a lot of time with them.

I had a research internship for two summers during my time at GMercyU at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. I believe the reason I was able to get that opportunity was because of the encouragement of my professors and their willingness to sit down with me to make sure I was prepared.

Presenting my thesis was probably my best moment at GMercyU because it really compiled everything I did into a few minutes. All of the research that I did at CHOP for two summers and everything I learned in class all came together. For my thesis, I worked with a syndrome called Cornelia de Lange syndrome which is a genetic condition that is pretty rare. I researched a fruit fly model of this disease and investigated various aspects of it. Hopefully, we will be able to eventually test drug compounds on the fruit flies that can be applied to humans but that's far in the future.

Transition from GMercyU to Medical School

As I mentioned, I was pre-med at GMercyU and was accepted into Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Va. The transition from undergrad to medical school was initially a challenge and took some getting used to. The amount of content that I was expected to learn in a short time period was difficult. However, once I figured out how to adjust my studying techniques, things got a lot easier. 

The GMercyU Biology program prepared me well both content-wise and with study skills for medical school.

The biology program prepared me for the content I saw in my first two years of medical school - biochemistry and microbiology, in particular - but also helped to cultivate my skills outside of the classroom, such as my ability to read scientific papers and be able to think critically about them as well as develop research protocols, carry out studies, and write manuscripts.

I felt very confident going into medical school with the knowledge that I had gained at GMercyU. We would learn things in med school that I remembered professors at GMercyU teaching me so I knew that GMercyU had prepared me well.

Medical School Journey

My experience at EVMS has been wonderful! The faculty and residents have created a very supportive environment for student learning. My first two years were very similar to undergrad because most of my time was spent in lectures and studying. After the first two years of med school, I took the first medical licensing board exam (USMLE Step 1). 

My third year of medical school consisted of six clinical rotations that were each eight weeks long (OB/GYN, internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, neuropsychiatry, and family medicine). During these rotations, I worked in the hospital and/or clinic with residents and faculty members to care for patients. At the end of each of these rotations, I had an exam specific to the specialty. The end of third year was focused on preparing for the second medical licensing board exam (USMLE Step 2) which is a two-part exam - written and clinical. 

After going through my third year, I decided to pursue general surgery as my specialty. It is a very demanding field, but I love it and I know that I would be unhappy doing anything else. 

I love general surgery for two major reasons. First, it is one of the only fields that require you to understand all aspects of medicine and apply medicine to patients while also requiring you to be able to perform technically difficult procedures and operations. Second, I love gastrointestinal pathology and being able to fix it with a single operation. For example, if a patient comes in with a small bowel obstruction and is in extreme pain, a general surgeon has the ability to resect that portion of bowel that is causing the obstruction. 

My fourth year has been very intense but has also been extremely fun because I am only doing surgery rotations. My first rotation this year was surgical oncology and I am currently rotating at Emory University in Atlanta for an acute care surgery rotation. I will be heading back to EVMS for the month of October for a trauma surgery rotation.

I just submitted my residency application and will be interviewing for general surgery programs during the fall/early winter. I will find out where I match for residency in March and then will graduate in May. General surgery is a five-year program but can be longer if people decide to take time off during residency to do research. 

After residency, I will have the option to complete a fellowship to further specialize within the field of general surgery. There are so many options - surgical oncology, emergency general surgery, endocrine surgery, vascular surgery, trauma, etc. I'm not sure if I will ultimately want to complete a fellowship. Right now, I really enjoy both surgical oncology and emergency general surgery because you can really impact someone's life in a positive way.