One of the most beloved, cherished and discussed organs in our body is undoubtedly, the heart. “Follow your heart,” or “take heart,” or “I’m heartbroken,” people say. Daily conversation for many may also include discussing heart health by means of diet and exercise. But then, there are the premeds, sitting at the desk across from you in Olin, meticulously studying the details of every rhythmic contraction of the incredible muscular organ. And after those students shut their books to head home, another select group-deeply interested and highly motivated to understand the complexities of the heart-will gather together to learn even more. Enter center stage, the Cornell Cardiology Interest Group.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease. “You can lose an arm and a leg and still survive, but the littlest of defects in your heart can be fatal,” says Cornell Cardiology Interest Group President Nikita Chapurin ‘11, who started the club two years ago along with Josh Novy ’10, Jennine Putnick ‘11, Jill Greisman ’10 (now a vet student), in order to further explore the field of cardiology and expose students to what it means to be a physician. “The funny part is, not everyone in our club wants to be a cardiologist. I don’t even know if I want to be a cardiologist,” stated Chapurin. But, the opportunity to focus on one discipline gives the students insight on this specific specialty.
“One of the best parts about our club is that our advisor is actually a cardiologist here at the veterinary school,” stated Chapurin. Indeed, Dr. Kornriech, a Cornell Veterinary School Alum and currently in the Clinical Sciences Department of the Veterinary School, has provided incredible opportunities for the group. The club has had workshops using his equipment, such as the EKG machines, as a diagnostic tool testing their own hearts. Kornriech says the electrocardiogram activities are some of his favorite parts about working with the club, as well as clinical cardiology rounds. He noted about cardiology that, “The level of cardiac technology is amazing. There is a lot of similarity in cardiac structure and function between humans and animals- things that are done on humans have usually been done to animals first.” Every Wednesday morning at 7:30 am (yes, that’s before your 8:05 class) there are discussions of clinical cases with Kornriech in the veterinary research tower-it is open to every Cornellian.
Chapurin said, “Most pre-medical students around the nation don’t have the opportunity to do the sort of hands on activities that we do. This is completely different than just going to Orgo class.” And his appreciation of the opportunities the club has provided is reciprocated by Kornriech, who complimented the undergraduates, saying, “The are consistent with what Cornell is all about. They are taking initiative and making the most of their education.”
The club activities include several field trips each semester, including a recent visit with Dr. Arthur Moss at University of Rochester who shared his perspective on medicine and his work with the defibrillator. Another prominent speaker, none other than President Skorton, has also shared with the club his experiences as a cardiologist before he became Cornell’s President.
Also on the club’s agenda has been a social event-watching a movie called The Wake, about a patient that wakes up during a surgery (count me out on that one). And in the upcoming weeks, the Cornell EMS will be training the Cardiology club so that they will be CPR-certified. And the group is not without a philanthropic side, either–in November, they will host a program for underprivileged high school students in Ithaca, where the students will be able to witness the dissection of a bovine heart.
“It is such a powerful machine– it is so consistent and we rely on it for life,” reiterates Chapurin. Certainly it is an incredible machine–one that members of the Cornell Cardiology Interest Group will marvel at, and heartedly pursue, for life.