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Ibraheem Cazalas Grove Summer Mentorship

Ibraheem Cazalas '24 Received Pre-med Mentorship Thanks to Dr. Jeffrey S. Grove '86

Aug 10, 2023

An Exceptional Student with Ambitious Goals

This summer, Ibraheem Cazalas ’24 participated in the Grove Summer Mentorship Program, which provides pre-med students with an immersive experience in the medical field. Under the guidance of Dr. Jeffrey S. Grove '86, a distinguished alumnus of FSC and a respected medical practitioner, Cazalas spent four weeks at Suncoast Family Medical Associates in Largo, Fla., gaining hands-on knowledge, direct patient care experiences, and invaluable mentorship.

Multiple Majors and Minors

He decided he wanted a medical career after earning his associate's degree.

"I decided to switch over to the pre-med track," he said. "So, I'm now studying both computer science and pre-med at the same time and it's awesome. It's a ton of work but it's fun. I prefer saving lives over saving PDFs."

Though his two majors may seem unrelated, he believes the problem-solving skills he uses in his computer science courses will prepare him for problem-solving in a medical career.

"That ability to problem solve and think critically about large volumes of information is especially valuable in a lot of my pre-med classes and also in the medical field," Cazalas said. "Given a series of symptoms, being able to think about how they work together, how they link together, can produce a variety of diagnoses. Then you can go perform further tests to confirm one or more diagnosis. That idea of problem solving that's been built into my entire education for years is definitely very valuable."

A New Perspective

Before the summer program, Cazalas' internship experience was mainly at hospitals. The Grove Mentorship Program has been pivotal in his preparation for saving lives, giving him a front-row seat to observe multiple doctors.

"I spent most of my time with Dr. Lena Patel," he said. "Then, on other days, I was with Dr. Tyler Otto and Dr. Enrique J. Urrutia Jr."

Cazalas benefitted from the fact that the doctors' goals were to provide as much in-house care for their patients as possible.

"The value of that for me is that I got to see more diverse procedures," Cazalas said. "I could see a wider range of things, which was awesome. We saw eight patients every day. It was four in the morning and four in the afternoon and the patient appointments lasted anywhere from 15 minutes to half an hour."

Cazalas observed doctors during checkups with patients. When the doctors had extra time, they taught him to observe anatomical features that can only be seen on X-rays.

"I also got to see a Doppler pulse," Cazalas said. "There's a machine that they use to listen to the pulse of blood flowing through various veins and arteries. You can actually put this instrument directly on the skin and it's kind of a sonogram. You can hear the blood flow. The doctor would explained to me what the sounds meant and how they're supposed to sound. It's a lot of cool experiences like that you wouldn't generally see at a private practice, but because of the type of care they provide at that facility, there's a lot more diverse experience that I was able to gain, which was awesome."

The pre-med student observed doctors performing aggressive medical procedures.

"I was able to see a doctor cutting into someone's foot with no pain medication, and they're just sitting there fine and they don't feel a thing. These are not small slices, they're (the doctors) literally digging into their (the patients) foot and they don't feel a thing. It was cool to see."

Making a Difference through Personal Patient Care

The experience also gave Cazalas a unique perspective on patient care and the doctor-patient relationship.

"I was able to witness longer appointment times, and to see the doctors actually engage with the patients a lot more closely," he said. "They know their history; they are their PCP (Primary Care Physician). Seeing that closer relationship and that different dynamic was beneficial."

Throughout the program, Cazalas appreciated the friendly and interactive atmosphere created by the patients. "All the patients were super friendly about having a med student there, and they were asking me questions and interacting with me, so it was definitely a cool experience."

Finding Work-Life Balance

Cazalas's time at Suncoast Family Medical Associates allowed him to gain a better understanding of the work-life balance in the medical profession. The Grove mentorship showed him that working as a PCP would give him more control over his time.

"I would not want a job that I had to work 20 hours a day," he said. "That's not something I'm interested in."

With aspirations to become an anesthesiologist, Cazalas aims to find a balance between his professional and personal life.

"The thing that's nice about anesthesiology is that like private practice, assuming you're in the right place, you still have work life balance," he said. "You still have your sort of nine to five, depending on where you work. In my case, I would be looking to work at some sort of outpatient surgical center rather than a hospital."

Cazalas does not rule out the possibility of his plans changing. Numerous doctors have told him he is almost guaranteed to change his mind when he enters medical school and starts rotations. They advised him he will find out what "clings to him." Regardless, he will try to balance his career and personal life.

"I want to have a family," Cazalas said. "I want to be able to live a life outside of the hospital or the clinic."

Connecting Students with Alumni in the Field

FSC is committed to creating opportunities for students to engage with alums like Dr. Grove. These mentorships play a pivotal role in shaping students' career paths and offering insights into the real-world application of their studies.

About Dr. Grove

Dr. Grove '86 earned a Bachelor of Applied Science in Biology from Florida Southern College and his osteopathic degree from the Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine (SECOM) in 1990. He completed his internship and residency at the Sun Coast Hospital in Largo, then joined Suncoast Family Medical Associates. Dr. Grove is board-certified in family medicine with a certification in geriatrics.