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Student Profile: Eric Hirsch


I grew up in Cedarhurst, a suburb just outside of New York City.

Where did you complete your undergraduate education? What did you study?

I attended Brooklyn College as a member of the BA/MD program and majored in philosophy. My philosophy courses at BC actually inspired a lot of my early interest in neuroscience, neurology, and medical ethics.

Why did you choose SUNY Downstate?

I chose SUNY Downstate because it offered a strong sense of community and excellent clinical training. All the Downstate alumni I spoke with stressed that students work together and support each other through the learning process – far from the stereotypes of the cutthroat medical school environment. Having met some of my best friends through study groups at Downstate, I definitely found that to be true! Clinically, Downstate offers the opportunity to work with a diverse population in the heart of Brooklyn. Being a Downstate student means never taking a hands-off approach to any aspect of patient care, whether it’s placing an IV, formulating a differential, or navigating socioeconomic barriers to care. I believe the experience uniquely prepares us for the challenges of real-world medical practice.

Specialty/ potential specialty:

I have really enjoyed my clinical and research experiences in neurology and am strongly considering the field, but I also intend to keep an open mind as I go through my third-year clerkships.

Who was/is your favorite professor at SUNY Downstate, and how has that professor shaped your view of medicine?

Dr. Frank Barone has been an invaluable mentor during my time at Downstate. I had the opportunity to perform basic stroke research with Dr. Barone through the Alumni Association’s First Year Summer Research Fellowship. During my time in the lab, I learned a number of important techniques in histology, behavioral testing, and data analysis. Dr. Barone’s commitment to education and the scientific ethics has truly inspired me to pursue my own my interests in research and teaching.

Tell us about your experience at the Academy of Neurology’s Annual Meeting. How did it feel to present a case report where you were the first author?

Presenting at the AAN’s Annual Meeting was a fantastic experience! As a third-year medical student just beginning to see patients, it was incredibly rewarding to present my own contribution to the clinical literature – a report of DTI-correlated Parkinsonism after chronic carbon monoxide poisoning – and discuss it with experts in the field. The conference also provided an incredible overview of contemporary neurology, from advances in neuroscience to challenges at the bedside. A particular highlight was the talk given by Dr. Bennet Omalu, the famed discoverer of CTE. I am incredibly grateful for the funding and support provided by the Alumni Association, which made my attendance possible.

What is your favorite memory at Downstate so far?

My favorite memory at Downstate is probably attending our White Coat Ceremony at the beginning of MS1. Being able to celebrate that important milestone in my journey to becoming a doctor with the family and friends who have supported me through the process was an experience I will always cherish. 

How has the Alumni Association for the College of Medicine at SUNY Downstate helped you on your journey to becoming a doctor?

The Alumni Association has helped make some of my most meaningful experiences at Downstate possible. I already described the support they provided for my summer research and my case presentation at the AAN’s Annual Meeting, both of which helped further my passion for neurology. The Alumni Association has also helped me develop my interests in policy and patient advocacy.  Through their support, I was able to attend AMA meetings in Honolulu and Chicago. At these meetings, my coauthor and I successfully advanced a resolution calling for feminine hygiene products to be classified as a medical necessity while learning about the intricate machinery of health care policy and the opportunities to advocate for our patients on the national stage. These experiences have fostered my passion for research and advocacy and given me important skills I hope to carry on into residency and my professional career.

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