“What I've found from different experiences over the past four years is that the more exposure I get to different fields of medicine, the more excited I get about that,” Forrest says. “I went through a couple of phases earlier this year where I was doing a shadowing rotation at St. Luke's … cycling through different specialties throughout the semester and … every single new thing I would see I was like, "Oh, I want to do this. This is so cool."
His experiences include more than 200 shadowing in hospitals ranging from neurosurgery at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to general oncology surgery at Reading Hospital Tower Health. And as part of a semester-long St. Luke's biomedical externship at Lehigh, he’s spent more than 60 hours just at St. Luke’s Hospital-Bethlehem Campus in general surgery, orthopedic surgery, internal medicine, emergency medicine and pediatrics.
“Having the exposure to medicine like that has just been paramount, not only in me getting experience in the field, but also confirming that this is what I wanted to do,” Forrest says.
He says a class he took in his final semester, virology with Lawrence Tartaglia, professor of practice, has been one of his favorites, but the externship is a close second. In addition to the observation component with the externship, the academic portion on campus includes weekly discussions, weekly essays about their experiences and a range of readings related to observations at the hospital.
“Being able to take this class at Lehigh and then come back and talk about it with my peers and professors, write papers on it, has just been unbelievably educational,” Forrest says. “Probably one of the most real-life, real-world application educational courses I've taken at Lehigh. And anytime I talk to a younger pre-med student, I always recommend that they apply for this class. The benefits that I've gotten from it are just unbelievable. I'm really, really fortunate to have had the opportunity to take it.”
To fulfill his dream of attending medical school, Forrest took the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) in April and intends on applying this summer to matriculate in fall 2024.
While he waits for acceptance letters, starting in July, he’ll be working at the National Institute of Health (NIH) in Washington, D.C., doing research in orthopedic surgery, and musculoskeletal and neuromuscular areas. He says he’ll work in the clinic with patients, record data, analyze his work and take on other projects as well.