Sean Parker

“This intimate learning environment on the Charleston Campus helped me more quickly adjust and perform better on my away rotations. I’m sure it will make my transition to being a first year resident easier as well.”

Princeton, W.Va.
Cleveland Clinic, Radiation Oncology
Transitional Year:
West Virginia University

Why did you choose the WVU School of Medicine?

I grew up in the southern portion of West Virginia and decided after spending four years in North Carolina that I missed life in the mountains and it was time to return home. As a bonus I got to watch Mountaineer sports live for four years!

Did you have an “a-ha!” moment when you knew this was the right field for you?

Growing up I’ve always been surrounded by medicine so I was probably predisposed to it but my “a-ha” moment actually happened during my undergraduate years while working extensively with cancer patients. For two years I attended all the appointments and treatments of a late stage cancer patient and over the course of that experience I came to realize the pivotal and influential role a physician can play in a patient’s life.

You are a student on the Charleston Campus. How did this impact your experience?

I enjoyed my time in Charleston. Living in the housing cluster next to the hospital was a fun and convenient way to get to know your fellow classmates while enjoying the view of the Capitol. I believe the educational experience was unique in that you were frequently involved in direct patient care and often played an important role in the care team. This intimate learning environment helped me more quickly adjust and perform better on my away rotations. I’m sure it will make my transition to being a first year resident easier as well.

Did you have a mentor at WVU who made an impact on your experience? If so, who and how?

Dr. Malcolm Mattes - the guidance and research opportunities he gave me during my time at WVU were indispensable in achieving my goal of becoming a radiation oncologist. Despite him recently moving to another institution, we still work on projects together but now I get to do so as a colleague!

It has surely been a different experience ending your education at home under social distancing. How have you adapted?

Fortunately, other than a cancelled graduation and a trip, my adaptation hasn’t been too dramatic and with today’s technology its actually been surprisingly manageable. Telemedicine became part of my recent curriculum and I was surprised how well it has worked and in some cases improved access to healthcare for rural populations. There’s been positives to these unforeseen adjustments too, while home I’ve been able to spend more time with my family and there’s always a home-cooked dinner waiting for me!

Where are you off to next?

I’ll be doing a victory lap in Morgantown for my transitional year. After that I’ll be heading to Cleveland Clinic for my radiation oncology residency. Go Browns!

Coronavirus has shown us the very best of health care professionals in trying times. What drew you toward this career path?

Coronavirus has placed all healthcare workers in a relatively unprecedented situation with much of the population suddenly looking to them for answers and guidance. I was drawn towards medicine after watching my mother, a family physician, work tirelessly to ensure her patients were both well informed and received excellent care. Hopefully over the next few months when I enter the health system during this crisis as first year resident I will be able to provide a similar degree of care and education for my patients. 

What's the best kept secret in Morgantown?

It may not be too big of a secret but I wish I discovered the rail trail sooner, it’s a great and easily accessible place to run and bike after work. On the weekends you can spend your day at Coopers Rock enjoying the views especially on the Raven’s Rock trail.

If you could go back in time, what's the one piece of advice that you would give to yourself on your first day of med school?

Easier said than done, but don’t neglect your well-being for the sake of studying for that exam or completing that research project. Sure that happens inevitably from time to time due to the nature of medical school, but doing so continually can really take a toll on your health and relationships. I am no model student for this, but looking back I wish I took more time to find that balance between maintaining school, health, and keeping in touch with your friends and family.