Skip to main content

Home  About Us  For Physicians  For Patients  For Students  Medical Society  Accountable Care Org.  Contact Us  Internship  Spectrum for Living  Sovereign Medical Group  Comprehensive PrimaryCare  Medicare SGR Fix  Chronic Care Management   
Summer Preceptorship
How to Become a Gastroent
Pre Med Club at Ramapo

Summer Preceptorship Program


Dear prospective students for Summer of 2012:


We have been very happy to receive positive feedback of our 4 recent students from the summer of 2010, and from the summer of 2011.  I again thank Valley Hospital for their support of our protocol and the many students they have referred. I hope the following answers all the questions one might have, otherwise please do not hesitate to call me. Please contact my office at 201-505-9595.


Further inquiries and requests for the mandatory applications to volunteer at Valley Hospital to be addressed to:


Kaitlyn Hipshman

Supervisor, College & Adult Volunteer Programs

The ValleyHospital

223 North Van Dien Avenue

Ridgewood, NJ07450

Office: 201-447-8513

Fax: 201-447-8484



My Summer Preceptorship Program is closely modeled after the “High School Externship” program pioneered by the New York City Board of education in 1974, that I was lucky enough to have been accepted to in the spring of 1976. 


The present program addresses two distinct current needs:

  • Medical offices in need of inexpensive but specialized labor, and

  • Students interested in medical careers


Utilizing the summertime, when students at various levels are more available, and doctors schedules are lighter, the Preceptorship allows students interested in medical careers to gain exposure to and experience in medicine. Most students, if not all, will use this experience to augment their college or medical school applications, and over half my students have gone on to medical school.  Only one used the exposure to decide that he would not pursue a medical career.  In other words, the exposure allow the students to “check out” the working experience and personal lifestyles of medical professionals, thereby gaining invaluable experience that furthers their abilities to compete for college, and particularly, medical school placement.


The doctor’s office, in turn, gains prestige as well as inexpensive but specialized and highly motivated labor force.  Manpower is therefore made available for marketing, research, and other specialized functions that would be otherwise difficult or expensive to obtain.


This program has been in operation on summers since 1995.  In the office I have accommodated up to 4 students during one summer, usually in teams of 2, each team 2—3 times a week.


Your volunteer office at Valley Hospital has played a crucial role, training the students in confidentially, universal precautions and sterile procedures.  Your volunteer department then certifies students, and gets them an official badge.  Adding lab coats (usually at my expense) enables to make hospital rounds with medical attendings, to attend various hospital functions, and observe in procedure and operating rooms.


Students are encouraged to attend several days a week for a period of 6 weeks or more, but the actual time commitment is highly variable and subject to availability and individual work and vacation schedules.  Though students are not graded, they will be subject to constructive criticism from the staff and exposure of their strengths and weakness as relates to their professional goals.  Additionally, there is every expectation of professional behavior throughout.


Students submit by e-mail a daily journal, which I try to read promptly and return comments by email—I have taken the position that these emails remains private, between me and students, and urge this remain policy, though some are so funny and others will so move you to tears, I wish I could publish them.  I do this because believe this will give the students the best chance to express their impression and grow by doing so.  When I am pressed for time I try to at least return an weekly and monthly summary of my comments by e-mail, again, to be sure that the students individual impression are correct, and that they fully comprehend the situations that they witnessed. 


For 2010, all my student got computer access to my patient records, were able to review notes on cases they had just witnessed.  They did not exactly jump at that opportunity as much as they did for the chance to review records to help me write a research project on Clostridium Difficile.  I think the prospect of being part of a new research excited them much more and several are continuing to help me with this.


I made several research resources available to the students, including UpToDate ($500/year), Scientific American Medicine Series via WEBMD($400/year), New York Times,  and free Medscape, Library of Congress search capabilities, by giving them my account and sign on info.


Every several weeks I gave each student a topic to look up on these resources, and would give them a chance to showcase or present their research.   These student outputs become a permanent part of the resources of the program for subsequent students and as well as a basis upon which letters of recommendations are written. 


During their stay students are also given the opportunity to read amongst 3 shelves worth of books and articles about health care and related topics. They may participate in office meetings and financial meetings, and will observe me handling a variety of issues related to health care delivery and running of a medical office.  During rounds, I search for opportunities for them to meet medical professionals who usually take a few minutes to talk to the students.  These have sometimes been the most fruitful of interactions for the students, and almost always I can address their search for details on their chosen career paths. 


Usually the amount of time and the actual timing of involvement is something we work out individually.  What the above mentioned students have generally found useful was a schedule of 3 days a week, either full or half days, with occasionally additional time as available.


Student’s time is largely spent in the office, sitting in with the attending seeing patients.  They may accompanied the attending on hospital rounds, and use the resources of our medical library, which is where their volunteer status and ID’s become important.  They also have the option of going on nursing home rounds and home visits, & and to procedure and operating rooms.  Hospital rules presently prohibit their observing procedures at Valley Hospital except through the DOCS program.  I have been able to bring my students to my ambulatory surgical facility.



Additionally, there are several hour long exercises that I have devised that help the students project themselves into a future in medicine to explore the accuracy of their perceptions about themselves and medicine in general:


1st, a 1-2 hour lecture I give on medical specialties, focusing on rewards and caveats, and length and costs of training.

2nd, projecting their daily activities into the future by 10 years,

3rd, estimating of the costs involved in an office practice vs. medical education



By the end of the rotation, I will spend an hour with each student to seek out further information on them, and use that, their logs, and sometimes comments of others about them, and my experience with them, to formulate a letter of recommendation that I think will further their stated goals.


Students return the favor and perform a number of office functions or assist in research activities as a way of paying back for time spent with them.  In the past this has consisted of setting up a filing system, filling papers and charts, scanning articles for handouts to patients, organizing drug samples and patient education materials.  Those students with computer experience are encouraged to assist in database management.  Those more advanced students with strong interests and abilities in medical research are invited in assisting in writing case reports and assisting in ongoing original research project.


Each will receive a memory stick pre-populated with copies of CD’s:

  • introduction to the metabolic syndrome

  • sleep apnea

  • the beginning of my future book on nutrition,as well as

  • sundry articles about various things of interest


During office hours the students will hear me expound on these principles with the patients.


If time allows, students will participate in several meetings with local VIP's regarding these topics, such as the Bergen County Medical Society Trustees meeting ( where my students got a standing ovation), the River Vale Township advisory health board, computer meetings at Valley Hospital, etc.


There are weekly luncheon meetings, generally with pizza attached to them - my treat.


Student maintain their catalogue of resources and make electronic copies as they wish.


We are in the midst of scanning all our resources and students are encouraged to assist.


There is no fee or stipend.We only ask for a $50 cash deposit at the onset, fully refundable when all materials have been returned.


All activities are voluntary.The time spend is totally under the students control.


All students sign confidentiality agreements and are schooled in confidentiality procedures & infection control procedures by the Valley Hospital Volunteer Department.


Our training also extends to proper behavior with patients and co-workers.  Proper attire is a must and short white Jacket or long white coats are required, and may be loaned to students for those times involving patient contact.  Students are always introduced to patients and staff by the title of pre-medical students, and prior consent is always obtained from the patients themselves. 


Students may carry any smart phones, laptops or minis or netbooks.  However, we cannot allow you on our network as yet, so they must have your own WiFi access for now or alternately, use our computers for research conducted in the office.


Students are given the Medical Student manual I wrote when a clinical professor for the New YorkMedicalCollege, instructing 5th Pathway medical students.  **A copy is attached.


There are several levels of student that have evolved through our program: 


A.Pre-Med college students, usually college juniors about to apply for medical schools and who are looking to fortify their portfolios and as a final check on their career choice. However, sophomores or freshman are welcome.Previous to Pascack Valley Hospital closing 11/07, our student often originated from the rosters of those having applied for the Stewart Alexander Pre-Medical education program at Pascack Valley Hospital, which is written up in the NJ state medical Journal *.


B.High school students interested in applying to medical school programs that admit directly from High School.These are usually highly motivated high school students with high academic achievements looking to fortify their portfolios and as a final check on their career choice. 


C.High school students interested in a professional office experience or medical career:They can be at any level in high school, and are looking to fortify their college applications, gain work experience, or, very important in my view, gain confidence, or as a final check on a medical career choice.


All students will be asked to obtain ahead of time the following items in June of the respective year of their participation:


  • 2-3 character references - from teachers, or other professionals or employers

  • a curriculum vitae or summary of their scholastic and personal achievements—this helps us  understand their strengths and interests and forms a basis for their letters of recommendation

  • a white Jacket or lab coat—if not we will strive to provide them with one

  • a $50 dollar deposit, required of all students—to diminish chances of unreturned items, such as lab coats, books, etc.


All students are strongly encouraged to apply through the Volunteer Office at ValleyHospital, which will train, certify, and provide professional ID badges, thereby qualifying them for making rounds in the hospital and use of the hospital library and other resources. 



Prior to their first day, all students will strive to :

Get proper attire, and jackets/lab coats

Obtain their Valley Hospital ID badges

Sign confidentiality agreements.

Drop off their CV’s

Pick up a copy of Dr. Biener’s CV.

Set up their time sheets, on which they will log in and log out

Set up their sign out sheets, upon which they will log any materials they take out of the office

Set up their contact information, which will allow my staff to find them in case there are last minute changes in the schedule.  This includes emergency contacts, and some information about their medical insurance.  (several of our students needed emergency care during their rotation)(no, we were not the cause of the need for care—One got appendicitis, one had a viral pericarditis, etc. etc.)

Familiarize themselves with my staff—introduce themselves and feel free to have brief conversations, time permitting.


During the time of the Preceptorship:

No unbecoming conduct whatsoever—students are in an official position that reflect the hospital and  medical practice confidence in them and they cannot do anything to besmirched their reputations.  I recommend they abstain from any substance use and extreme political activity, and in general behave as model citizens, especially on the internet.


When with patients they must wear their ID’s so that they are clearly visible at all times.


For instance, my stated rules of conduct include the following:




Parking is available in our two lots but I insist the students park alongside the outside lane of the adjacent street or the GYM parking lot.  This allows parents with small children and infirm patients closer and safer access to this building that houses a variety of doctors, including a large pediatrics group.




Basically, conservative appearing dress shirts and ties, slacks and dress shoes for the men and conservative attire and comfortable shoes for the ladies are highly recommended.   In every way possible you want to portray a clean cut conservative image that suggest trustworthiness and engenders confidence in the patients.    Please see the 5th pathway medical student manual for some details.




Observing, as I have done, students progress over 30 years, I have found that some of the best responses patients and co-workers have had to students occur when students appear interested, maintain eye contact with the patient, and in many nonverbal ways accommodate them in tight quarters--  that includes opening and closing doors for them, thereby appearing to understand the flow of the action in an interview, hanging up an umbrella or laying a cane against the wall, and being helpful in small ways.  Standing yet looking interested is a skill, but one that you will be utilizing frequently in medical school.  Not an easy skill to practice, it is, as I have had 5 students faint or almost faint doing that.  so it's important  when standing to frequently flex your calf muscles and bend at the knees—imagine you are one of the British Queens guards !  it’s also very useful that you treat your body right, start your day with a healthy breakfast, make sure you stay hydrated during the day, and don't skip meals.  At any time, if you are not feeling right, excuse yourself from the room, and seek one of my staff, who, as mentioned above, have now considerable experience with this.  Certainly, if you need to leave the room when we are with a patient, in a meeting, or at a patient's bedside, say the words "excuse me" quietly, curtsy, and make your way out unobtrusively.  OK, you don't have to curtsy.  However, a quick graceful exit is much preferred to someone’s cell phone ringing over and over, etc. 


Keep your cellphones on vibrate, if possible.


With the exception of caffeine, there will be no substance use while on duty, which to me means from the day you start the preceptorship to the day you end it (yes, I really mean that), and which includes all forms of alcohol, such as Red Bull, and tobacco in any form.My personal feeling is that if you can't go without smoking or using something for 6 weeks, you need to find a less stressful occupation.  



Attached is a roster of some of students that have spent time with us, and, when available, follow up on their career paths:




Schooling at that time

Present status

Pedro Ibarbia

10 weeks, summer ‘95

RamapoCollege Sophomore

Finished law school as sponsored by Columbia/Cornell medical Center, director of  department at ColumbiaNY(Cornell) Physician Referral Service. 

Jose Ibarbia

6 weeks, summer ‘98

RamapoCollege sophomore

UMDNJ Medical school, waiting list for Mt.Sinai, Finished Rehab Medicine Residency at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center NYC, 2011 fellowship in rehab medicine, SloanKetteringMemorialCancerCenter, NYC

Russell Monasterio

6 weeks, summer ‘95

MIT  Junior

Business, self employed. 


Shyunti Das

6 weeks, summer ‘02

BergenAcademy  High School Junior

Admitted to 2 medical school via early admission, remained at the 7 year Drexel program, finishing Internal Medicine Residency after a stint in Tazmania. Contact person is her mother, Dr. Urmi Das.

Diana Gerber

College Junior

6 weeks, summer ‘05

TulaneUniversity Junior

graduated Tulane university  after Hurricane induced hiatus at Syracuse U, stayed on to do neuroscience research, later got into medical school.

Jacquelline Oppler


summer of ’07, left due to sudden  illness 4th day here,

College Sophomore

in graduate program in  international social work

Elizabeth N.

6 weeks, summer ‘06


SaraMassCollege, Vernon, NY,

Applied unsuccessfully to Mount Sinai Medical school  via community service/Liberal Arts pathway,


Letitia Ennist

6 weeks, summer ‘09

Stevens Institute


Admitted to several medical schools, attending UMDNJ

Robert Yang

6 weeks, summer ‘09

College Sophomore

Continuing pre-med path, will be applying to medical schools in ‘11



Selected Bibliographic Resources for Summer Preceptorship


Clinical Symposia: Vol. 34 No.6 CPR: Basic Life Support, 1982, and updates,


Coile, Russel C.  Revolution: The New Health Care System Takes Shape.  Grand Rounds Press, 1993.


Gittelson, Steven.  On Your Terms: Negotiating your Way to a Successful New Practice.  Grand Rounds Press, 1994.


Easterbrook, Gregg.  Surgeon Koop: Medicine and the Politics of Change.  Grand Rounds Press, 1991.


Furtado, Teo.  The New Physician: From Lone Ranger to Team Player.  Grand Rounds Press, 1994.


Guthrie, Michael B.  Decision Point: Evaluating Your Practice Options.  Grand Rounds Press, 1994.


Jaroff, LeonThe New Genetics: The Human Genome Project and Its Impact on the Practice of Medicine.  Grand Rounds Press, 1991.


Klass, Perri.  Taking Care of Your Own: Parenthood and the Medical Mind.  Grand Rounds Press, 1992.


Rheumatology Rounds: Low Back Pain


Rosenbaum, James.  Malpractice Solutions: Coming to the Doctor’s Defense.  Grand Rounds Press, 1993.


Sammons, James H.  Inside Medical Washington: Standing Up For Doctor’s Rights in the Nation’s Capitol.  Grand Rounds Press, 1992.

Selzer, Richard.  Raising the Dead: A Doctor’s Encounter with His Own Mortality. Grand Rounds Press, 1993.

Starr, Paul.  The Logic of Health Care Reform: Transforming American Medicine for the Better.  Grand Rounds Press, 1992.

Vibbert, Spencer.  The Doctor Watches: How the PROs Police Medicine.  Grand Rounds Press, 1991.


Vibbert, Spencer.  What Works: How Outcomes Research Will Change Medical Practice.  Grand Rounds Press, 1993.


Weissman, Gerald.  The Doctor Dilemma: Squaring the Old Values with the New Economy.  Grand Rounds Press, 1992.

Additional resources available:

Videos available in Valley Hospital medical library: there are a number of videos that are both of general interest and of an appropriate level, available for you to view in the library or loan out.


Understanding the Medical Malpractice crisis, Program # 815, Donald J. Palmisano, MD, president elect, AMA