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Alumni, Mark Charlamb

Dr. Mark J. Charlamb '87 gives students advice
   on medical-school process

By Francesca Olivo

Dr. Mark J. Charlamb ‘87 wants healthcare minded students to know that the road of studying medicine is a series of decisions.

Dr. Mark Silverberg '91
Dr. Mark Silverberg '91, presented A Day in the Life of an Emergency Medicine Physician, as part of the Harpur Physician Alumni Lecture Series on March 11.

“The reality is to know what you want to do for your lifestyle,” the Harpur College alumnus said. “I was in the hospital at 3 this morning and the only people around were me and the general surgeons. Everyone else is home sleeping because everything else can wait until the morning.”

Charlamb presented A Day in the Life of a Cardiologist for The Physician Alumni Lecture Series to students on March 4 in the University Union.

Charlamb is a procedural and internal medicine certified cardiologist at St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center in Syracuse. He graduated from Binghamton University in 1987 and continued for another seven years through SUNY Upstate Medical University to Harvard Medical School.

“From high school I applied to college, to medical school, to my first residency, to my second residency and finally to cardiology,” Charlamb said. “I’ve done the gamut of applications, I’m an application wizard.”

Dr. Michael Heit '84
Dr. Michael Heit '84, spoke with students about his experience in the medical profession as a an OBGYN specializing in urogynecology and reconstructive pelvis surgery.

As a Harpur undergraduate, Charlamb admits he was unsure of what he wanted to do with his future. With family influence and personal interest, Charlamb pursued a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences.

“I had a lot of pressure in my world because my father was a doctor and my brother was a doctor,” Charlamb said. “I didn’t know what else to do. But to me science was easy, I liked it and I grew up with it.”

During his sophomore year Charlamb was the first student to be accepted into the Early Assurance Program that saved him a seat at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. Getting into medical school early, Charlamb was able focus on his studies at Harpur College.

“The Early Assurance Program was great because I was in medical school while my friends were struggling with writing essays and taking the [Medical College Admission Test],” Charlamb said. “I knew I wanted to study medicine and it worked out great. I have zero regrets.”

While he quickly moved on from undergrad to continue his medical studies, Charlamb did not lose his Harpur College pride.

“Binghamton to me was an unbelievable platform and a great experience,” Charlamb said. “I can't say enough about it. I wouldn't be where I am today without Binghamton.”

Comparing his undergraduate and medical school experiences, Charlamb noticed many changes including his busier schedule and heavier workload. He discovered that the easiest adjustment was the overall attitude of the classroom.

“Once you're in medical school that academic sparring or competition [between classmates] is off the table,” Charlamb said. “You're all there to survive and you're all there to do well. It's a great learning environment.”

Charlamb explained that students should decide what kind of doctor they want to be before their residency years. Before applying to his residency at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center with Harvard Medical School, he knew he wanted a selective program that would utilize his interests in pharmacology and physiology.

“You have to decide initially if you want to do a medical specialty where you have to think about things or you want to do a surgical specialty where there’s no thinking and you just cut,” Charlamb said.

Before making such big decisions, Charlamb urged students to consider all aspects of their desired field of medicine and to stay determined even if opportunities don’t present themselves right away.

“An MD degree is a stepping stone to anything you want to do, don’t give up,” Charlamb said. “If this is what you like and this is what your passion is then find an avenue that you can do. You’ll get there.”

Being an active student throughout his entire academic career, Charlamb knew he wanted to avoid daily repetition.

“What I love about being a cardiologist is that my day is always different,” Charlamb said. “It's a potpourri.”

Loving what he does every day and working with his patients, Charlamb would not change anything about the decisions he has made. While more than 10 years of higher education can seem overwhelming, Charlamb encouraged undergrads to see it through.

“Whatever you do in medicine is a long road, it really is,” Charlamb said. “But if it’s your passion time flies — and my time has flown.”

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Last Updated: 12/13/17