Junior Takes Medical Passions to St. Barnabas


Andrew Parsons, FCRH ‘21 interns at St Barnabas Hospital.

This past summer, while most Juniors in college were sleeping in Andrew Parsons, FCRH ’21 was up before the sun at Saint Barnabas Hospital helping change the lives of its neurosurgery patients. Over the summer, Parsons was hired as a student intern on the team of the head neurosurgeon a Saint Barnabas, Dr. Ralph Rahme, M.D. As Rahme’s first undergraduate student intern, Parsons was eager to gain experience in the world of neurosurgery, help change lives and conduct research.

“I wanted to be a doctor for a long time,” Parsons remarked, “It’s really rewarding to see long term patients get better and improve neurologically especially because neurosurgical patients have very serious issues.”

One patient that left a mark on Parsons was a boy in a coma when Parsons first arrived on the job. By the end of the summer, the boy awoke from the coma and coherent was again. Parsons scrubbed into every surgery with 2–6 operations per week all summer including emergency surgeries.
“We got there at 7 a.m. and did not leave until all the work was done,” Parsons recalled. As a shadowing intern, Parsons made rounds to all the neurosurgical patients at Saint Barnabas with Rahme, checking in on them every day and making sure they were doing okay.

During his time at Saint Barnabas thus far, Parsons has witnessed some fascinating medical phenomenons. One case that stood out for him was a man that was shot in the head and survived two surgeries because the bullet migrated naturally to the back of his head. In a month the man was able to move around and talk.

Parsons remembers another case where a man was stabbed in the back of neck with an ice pick and walked out of the hospital the next day. The ice pick went into his vertebrae but missed both his vertebral artery and his spinal column, so he was perfectly fine other than the ice pick sticking out of his neck.

“I was there the whole time, from when he was admitted and all of his procedures to when he was let out,” Parsons said, “His only complaint the entire time was that he was thirsty.”

Rahme made sure to keep Parsons as involved as possible and give him as many opportunities as he could, including the opportunity to do research under him. In addition to his research on the case with the ice pick stabbing, Parsons also conducted a long term retrospective study on dialysis disequilibrium syndrome under Rahme.

He recently submitted his research to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) and is waiting to see if it gets accepted. If Parsons’ research were to be accepted, he would be invited up to Boston to present his research to the AANS.

Parsons has continued his work at Saint Barnabas since the beginning of the school year, interning two days a week in addition to his pre-health classes at Fordham. He said he trusts that the Fordham pre-health program will help achieve his goal of getting into a medical school in New York City, especially because, as a freshman, he learned that the pre-health graduates of FCRH ‘17 had a high acceptance rate into medical schools.

His passion for studying to become a doctor comes from his fascination with the medical field itself.

“I find it really fascinating, medicine in general, especially surgery. Watching a brain surgery, there’s nothing like it. The ways we can use technology and modern medicine to physically change things in the human anatomy and to help people get better is so cool and interesting to me.”

Parsons said he will continue his work at Saint Barnabas learning everything that he can from Rhame in the hopes of going to medical school and becoming a doctor looking to better the lives of neurosurgical patients and beyond.