John Ortolani

UB Medical School connected John Ortolani to a rewarding summer research project.

Why did you choose UB?

Three things pulled me back to my hometown. First, my next-door neighbor, a physician, prompted me to consider UB, especially given the flurry of investment in the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and the medical school. Second, I felt a strong desire to serve the people of this region. I know it sounds rehearsed, but there is something powerful about giving back to the community that produced you. Finally, I could not pass up the value of a UB medical education.

What have you found are the advantages of studying medicine in your hometown?

We are a close community, which lends itself to a very effective practice of medicine. For me, having the opportunity to treat the people of Buffalo and its surrounding communities is particularly humbling. We are truly a regional family, and there is a great sense of service in what we, as training physicians, study and practice.

Have you had the opportunity to do research?

Yes—I collected data on patients who had undergone surgical correction for cervical spondylotic myelopathy, a condition in which the cervical spinal cord is compressed as a result of degenerative changes in the vertebrae, intervertebral discs and ligaments of the spine.

How did that experience benefit you?

It gave me the opportunity to delve into neurosurgery, a field I have been considering. I was able to couple the research with shadowing surgeons in the OR.

You’ve also done an externship. How did that enrich your medical school experience?

I had an externship with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York, where I researched the challenges insurance companies face in managing the health care system. While it solidified my position on the “medical” side of the system, I gained an understanding of the issues these companies face trying to control costs while promoting quality care.

How did UB help you learn about that position?

The Office of Medical Education is wonderful in e-mailing students about upcoming research opportunities and providing frequent lunch lectures that explore career options.

What would you tell others interested in UB Medical School?

Visit the school and meet the wonderful faculty and staff. It’s not only the quality of the UB education that drives prospective students here, but the passion that the people here exude for their work. That infectious love of learning is an aspect of UB that I value.