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Silver Hill Hospital Welcomes CUNY Medical Student, Claude Parola

Silver Hill Hospital

Silver Hill Hospital Welcomes CUNY Medical Student, Claude Parola

This July, Silver Hill Hospital welcomed 4th year CUNY medical student, Claude Parola (above right), to campus for a clinical rotation in psychiatry. Claude is the inaugural participant in a newly created collaboration between the Silver Hill Academy of Research and Education (SHARE) and the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Medicine, and the first of five CUNY students who will be training at Silver Hill Hospital this year.

“This is a new program, just launched, and Claude is an excellent debut student,” says Jeff Katzman, MD, Director of Education (above left) at Silver Hill Hospital. “Claude, as with the other CUNY medical students yet to come, is planning a career in psychiatry so for him to be able to observe and work alongside some of the best clinicians in the country within an interdisciplinary system of care is a wonderful learning experience. And, for us, we learn from the fresh perspectives and questions the students bring which reflect current learnings, education and technologies — and their very bright minds.”

Meet Claude Parola.

When did you decide to go to medical school?
My dad is a doctor so that says a lot. He grew up in Haiti and came here. He went to the same college as I did (CUNY) but they didn’t have a medical school at that time. He went to medical school in Mexico and returned to New York to practice. He is an Infectious disease specialist. He started his career with the AIDS Epidemic in the 80s and is ending it with COVID. He’ll retire when I complete medical school.

I always looked up to him and as a kid, I wanted to be just like my dad. So ever since then, I saw myself in the position of a ‘doctor.’ It wasn’t until I got to medical school that I realized that my vision of the position is very different than the reality, and that the position of doctor looks many different ways depending on the specialty you choose.

Have you selected a specialty/concentration yet, or are you exploring?
I’ve selected psychiatry. Last year, after a psychiatry rotation, I made up my mind for a variety of reasons. It’s the best fit for me because I’m very interested in the mind-body connection and what makes us tick and what makes us these conscious beings. Psychiatry addresses the whole picture of what it is to be a human. I’m interested in the ailments of the mind. When I discovered psychiatry, it was like finding a puzzle piece that fit me and completed the puzzle.

Did you have any other favorite, or less favorite rotations?
I liked pediatrics and enjoyed working with the kids. Surgery I did not enjoy with the long hours in the operating room. Long term, I knew that was not a great fit for my goals and my life.

How are you spending your time at SHH?
I’m all over. I’m working mainly with The Adult Transitional Living Program with Dr. Marotta, Dr. Srishaila, and Dr. Weiner who work with patients with schizophrenia and other illnesses. This is a population I am very interested in and in understanding the treatments that help them live their lives.

I’ve actually seen some patients who have come back to visit their docs here and they are living completely, with functional jobs, and living on their own. I’ve learned how critical it is to have a lot of support after you receive your diagnosis — how valuable the support system is from the hospital, family, residential sites, and surrounding you. In a prior psychiatry rotation I had, this wasn’t the case and I saw patients without support go through a cycle of hospitalization, medication, discharge, and poverty for decades. I’ve learned that the longer someone has a disease the more challenging it is to treat it.

Any particular insights or initial reactions to the work you are doing?
I’ve observed IOP (Intensive Outpatient) rounds; groups at the Steward House; therapy at The Center for the Treatment and Study of Neuropsychiatric Disorders (CTSND). I’ve observed Psychodrama, which was amazing to watch, and I’ve learned that treatment is not just medications, it’s the impact of the other therapies as well. Each are very different, the way they are conducted is different and they are based on different theories, but I’ve learned that as a psychiatrist, you have to observe so many things and look at the whole picture from all angles — developmental, longitudinal, familial — and understand the patient as a whole. Medication alone will not lead to comprehensive treatment.

What are your plans after you finish up at Silver Hill?
I complete this rotation on July 28 and then start a psychiatric rotation in Staten Island, followed by a cardiac care rotation in the Bronx. I’ll also be applying for residencies throughout.

What do you like to do when you’re not studying or interning?
I spend a lot of time with my family. I visit my two sisters and Mom in Texas; I also play video games which in medical school can be therapeutic in a sense. I like reading, yoga, meditating and being in the realm where you are very conscious of the world around you.

Did anything about Silver Hill Hospital surprise you?
The beauty and peace of it all. At Silver Hill Hospital, the environment itself is therapy. Coming from New York City, I was surprised by the beauty and how it affects not just the patients, but also the staff, and students like me.