A small blurb in the Medical School Student Council minutes led to an internship with “The Dr. Oz Show” in New York City for Rod Gerardo, a medical student at the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine.
“The internship was for students interested in public health and TV,” said Gerardo, who is from Brecksville, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. “’The Dr. Oz Show’ was an opportunity for me to dip my feet into that realm of medicine.”
“The Dr. Oz Show” is a health and wellness TV show that airs five days a week, Monday through Friday. The show stars Mehmet Oz, a cardiothoracic surgeon and professor at Columbia University. The show began in 2009 after Oz spent five years as a health expert on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”
Gerardo took a year off from medical school to be a medical student producer for “The Dr. Oz Show.” His internship began in August 2016 and concluded at the end of April.
He was one of three medical student producers for the show, which is in its eighth season. Gerardo and his colleagues were in the studio three days a week. Two episodes a day are filmed. Gerardo and the two other medical student producers vetted the content for the show. They helped develop new material, designed 3-D animations and worked with the props department to put together demonstrations for the show. They also wrote short health advice tips for iHeart radio public service announcements and researched information for Oz’s magazine columns and interviews on other television programs like NBC’s “Today” show.
The experience was a great learning opportunity for Gerardo. He appreciated working with Oz.
“Dr. Oz is one of the most intelligent and busiest physicians I have ever met,” said Gerardo, who earned his undergraduate degree in biology and a master’s degree in nutrition from the University of Cincinnati. “His mind moves so fast.”
Oz taught Gerardo that physicians don’t have to be limited by the careers of their mentors. “If there is something that you want to do with medicine or a way that you want to help patients, you can do that,” Gerardo said. “And, you can still be a family man and make it all work.”
The show educates viewers about health topics. “This area in which ‘The Dr. Oz Show’ lives is a gray area where medicine meets the media. Before Dr. Oz, it was fairly uncharted territory,” Gerardo said. “It was difficult to take health topics and package them in a way that the general public can learn something from them. We always try to educate the viewers.”
Medicine comes somewhat naturally to Gerardo. His mother, Pat Gerardo is a geriatrician at the Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs, and his father, Ern Gerardo is a pediatrician at University Hospitals in Cleveland. Gerardo is one of four siblings and the only one who is pursuing a career in medicine.
“Growing up with parents who are physicians made a career in medicine a logical choice,” said Gerardo, who also played in the drum line at Cleveland Cavaliers basketball games as a teenager. “My interest in science and my passion for service led me to medicine. I saw a lot of that in my parents.”
Gerardo chose to attend the Boonshoft School of Medicine because of the school’s sense of community.
“The Boonshoft School of Medicine has well exceeded my expectations,” he said. “The connections that the students make with one another and the connections that are made with the faculty are phenomenal.”
As a medical student, he has been involved with Medical School Student Council, serving as social chair. He also has served as a tour guide for prospective students.
“I take a lot of pride in our medical school,” he said. “I really like to show it off.”
In addition, Gerardo is a member of the Global Health Initiative, a student-run organization that complements the medical school’s International Education Program track and facilitates students’ exposure to medical issues facing people in other countries and those of immigrants in the United States. Gerardo went to Jamaica after his first year of medical school on a trip led by Thomas E. Herchline, professor of internal medicine.
“Seeing an American physician with limited resources interacting with a patient is one of the purest forms of bedside manner,” he said. “I learned so much from Dr. Herchline on that trip.”
After his internship with “The Dr. Oz Show,” he will begin his final year of medical school, starting his rotations in surgery. He wants to go into a general surgery residency.
“There was something about holding tools in my hands to help a patient,” said Gerardo, who would like to include public health in his medical career. “It reminded me of my days as a drummer. That tactile sensation felt very natural to me.”
He also plans to go to the Philippines on an international medical service trip during his final year of medical school. His parents are originally from the Philippines, and his grandmother and several relatives live there. Three of his grandparents were physicians in the Philippines.