Health and Medicine People and Community

Premed student shadows doctors in Italy

Sophie Estoppey participated in a two-week DoctorsinItaly fellowship program at one of the top hospitals and gained experience by observing medical practitioners in different specialties. She also got to immerse herself in the European country’s culture.
Sophie Estoppey in scrubs while participating in DoctorsInItaly

Sophie Estoppey shadowed doctors in Italy as part of a fellowship program. Photo: Courtesy of Sophie Estoppey

From early childhood, Sophie Estoppey found happiness in traveling and helping others. 

When the opportunity to shadow doctors abroad emerged, the Charleston, South Carolina, native decided there was no better way to fulfil her wanderlust than through the DoctorsinItaly

Fellowship Program, which offered an opportunity to work with medical professionals in the European country. 

Estoppey, a senior psychology major at the University of Miami, landed in Milan, Italy, earlier this summer to experience what clinical shadowing at Ospedale San Giuseppe Hospital would be like. One of Italy’s most modern medical facilities, the hospital is part of the MultiMedica Group. 

“My dad was born in Switzerland. So, growing up I’ve been very fortunate to visit his family, and both my parents taught me early on the benefits of travel and learning about other cultures,” she said. “I already had plans to spend my summer traveling, so this allowed me to explore Italy for the first time and learn about health care from an international perspective.”

Created in 2018, DoctorsinItaly was designed with the purpose of doctors—in varying specialties including dermatology, orthopedics, and neurosurgery—to share their knowledge with students from around the world who are seeking a career in medicine. The creators of the fellowship program also saw a chance for college students to immerse themselves in Italian culture while earning shadowing hours and experiences required for graduate and medical schools. 

For two weeks, Estoppey, who is on the premedical track at the University, was offered the opportunity to shadow physicians in different specialties for four days a week—including her top two interests: geriatrics and pediatrics. 

“I started off doing physical therapy in the geriatrics department and then spent some days in the neonatal department,” said Estoppey, who didn’t allow a language barrier to hold her back from such an opportunity. “I loved how the program was tailored to my interests and allowed me to look at the international health care system and also meet great mentors along the way.” 

After completing the program, Estoppey said it was eye-opening, and it also offered an environment in which she was able to network and meet like-minded peers from the United States who have the similar goals. 

Because of the program, Estoppey said that she hopes to one day fuse her passion for travel and medicine to become a traveling physician. 

“This was my first time shadowing abroad. So, it was really cool to compare it to my experience in the states and speak to doctors in the Italian care system and get their perspective on things,” she noted. “It has definitely made me a lot more interested in other health care systems and inspired me to want to travel more when I begin to practice medicine.” 

Her whirlwind summer did not end in Italy. Estoppey also visited Israel as part of  a birthright trip—a 10-day educational group excursion for young adults to discover and explore their Jewish identity. 

The senior will be returning to the University this fall to complete her studies. With just one semester left before graduating, she said that she is looking forward to reaping the benefits of all her hard work. 

“I can’t wait to finish this last semester with the people that I’ve grown to love on such a beautiful campus,” she declared.