Even though her sister, Jessica, had decided to become a physician -- she’s now an orthopedic surgery resident in Las Vegas -- it was by no means a foregone conclusion that Ms. Albanese would follow her into the medical profession.
Her undergraduate major was chemical engineering. “I loved math and science and thought it could be an interesting career.”
The internship through the New Jersey Institute of Technology had a profound effect on her. Not only did she realize that she wanted a career where she wanted to be more in touch with people -- “I couldn’t see myself just being in a lab all day “ -- she also came to respect how men and women dealt with medical issues, such as strokes, later in life.
“I was really touched by how the people who had suffered strokes were looking for answers to overcome their problems,” said Ms. Albanese, whose intellectual reaction to her experience was to begin a second major in neuroscience to better understand how the brain works.
The internship also served as a catalyst for her decision to become a physician, one with an interest in geriatrics.
“In medicine I realized I could do research and also work with people,” Ms. Albanese explained. “And I see geriatrics as one of the last frontiers of medicine. It hasn’t been very well studied. No matter what specialty I finally decide on, geriatrics will somehow be involved.”
Between her first and second year of medical school, Ms. Albanese, who had won a scholarship sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, was able to formally study the field of geriatrics during the summer through the University of Washington in Seattle. Her research there -- she partnered with a psychiatrist -- led to the oral presentation she made recently on geriatric patients during the research forum. She credits Dr. Netski and Dr. Kate Martin, the associate dean for graduate medical education who was then working to bring a geriatrics fellowship to the UNLV School of Medicine, for helping her win the short term scholarship. The geriatrics fellowship at UNLV is expected to be operational in July 2020.
“The need for geriatricians is very real,” said Ms. Albanese.
The current patient to geriatrician ratio in Nevada is more than ten-thousand to one.
Now shadowing physicians at University Medical Center of Southern Nevada (UMC) who are seeing patients in service lines that include neurology, internal medicine, family medicine and ob-gyn, Ms. Albanese says she enjoys every day of medical school, even though it often means a 7-day a week involvement.
“I’ll see patients with a doctor and then go home and try to read more about it or read ahead,” she said. “I just want to learn all I can for the patients I will see.”
The daughter of a retired corrections officer with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and a homemaker who immigrated from Mexico, Ms. Albanese says that research will always be a large part of her future career as a physician.
“As a doctor, I’ll have the privilege to see and work with patients,” she said. “I think the hardest thing to tell patients is that there are no answers to their problems. That’s why I will always do research. It’s at the forefront of better medicine.”