Moore Completes Fellowship at Hospital in Uruguay on Road to Thoracic Surgery

Nandi Moore (Sr., Santa Clarita, CA/Golden Valley HS)
Nandi Moore (Sr., Santa Clarita, CA/Golden Valley HS)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

SALEM, Ore. -- Nandi Moore (Santa Clarita, CA/Golden Valley HS) will be a senior on the women's swimming team at Willamette University this fall. Her plan is to complete a bachelor's degree in Biology while simultaneously working on the fourth year of Willamette's 3/2 MBA program, which will also provide her with a Master of Business Administration degree in the spring of 2019.

That's plenty to keep most students busy. For Moore, it's only the start. After receiving a bachelor's degree and an MBA, she plans to attend medical school and eventually become a thoracic surgeon.

It all adds up to 16 years of education and medical residency, including four years of medical school, five years of general surgical residency and two years of cardiothoracic surgical residency.

Successfully working her way toward such a challenging career choice will require lots of discipline, organization, and commitment. She has those skills in great quantity, thanks in part to the efforts of her mother and her sister, who are her pillars of support.

"My mom and my older sister ... tell me to keep going," Moore said. "My mom is just motivational because she did her Ph.D. as a single mom."

Her mother, Cherise, remains excellent at balancing responsibilities. She's a political science professor, also grades dissertations, and is a travel agent. She is married to Nandi's step-father, Paul Charles.

Moore said that her sister motivates her by excelling as a college student.

"She inspires me to succeed in school because she has already done it and is continuing to do it," Moore said. "If she can do it, I can. She continues to tell me stories about herself and her personal experiences that help motivate me to keep going."

Moore's mother and her sister helped Nandi decide to enter a medical fellowship this summer at Hospital Maciel in Montevideo, Uruguay from May 14 through June 10. It began almost as soon as the spring semester ended at Willamette.

Nandi Moore (Sr., Santa Clarita, CA/Golden Valley HS), third from left in top row, along with other students participating in medical fellowships in Uruguay this summer She spent the next two days driving home to Santa Clarita, California. Then she re-packed and left almost immediately to take a flight from Los Angeles to Miami. She completed her travel with a flight from Miami to Montevideo.

Once in Montevideo, Moore and other students participating in fellowships met up with their site managers. Each student was assigned a place to live in a dorm-like setting located in the Tres Cruces area of the city. The apartment had two bedrooms -- one with a one bed and the other with two beds -- plus a bathroom and a kitchen. Moore and two other students shared the apartment.

"The organization that I went with was called the Atlantis Fellowship Program," Moore said. "It was costly, so I had 17 donors to help me raise money so that I could go."

"I think that it is wonderful that Willamette is a place where you can gain experiences and an education that prepare you to do something like the Atlantis Fellowship," Willamette Head Coach Leslie Shevlin said. "It is impressive that Nandi can take what she has learned from her family, her team and her institution and go out and achieve something like the Fellowship so early on her path towards her career."

During her fellowship at Hospital Maciel, Moore completed rotations with general surgery, anesthesiology, neurosurgery, internal medicine, oral surgery and thoracic surgery.

Each day students would arrive at the hospital to meet with the doctors.

"They took us to see their patients. They used gloves only when around blood. I thought it was strange," Moore noted, adding that in the United States, doctors wear gloves whenever they're going to have contact with their patients.

"By 11 or 12 (noon) we would be done with the patients and we would go to surgery."

Moore said that among other surgeries she watched one involving surgery on both lungs.

"One was cancerous, so they removed a lot of the lung," Moore recalled.

She also saw a gall bladder removal as well as neurosurgery and oral surgery.

"I did take anatomy, but actually seeing blood was interesting," Moore commented. "The one thing that sort of shocked me was the smell of burning bone and skin."

In some cases, surgeries had to be rescheduled because specialized equipment was being used elsewhere in the hospital.

"For example, there are only two sets of laparoscopic equipment available for their use," Moore said. "One of the sets goes to neurosurgery because they need it for every surgery they perform and the other is for the emergency surgery room. In order to get the emergency room set, the surgeons would have to arrive at the hospital very early and call in their requests. If they weren't early enough, then the patient had to wait for another day."

Among her several rotations, Moore said that she enjoyed her time in thoracic surgery the most.

Nandi Moore (Sr., Santa Clarita, CA/Golden Valley HS) "It was the fact that they wanted to help everybody," Moore explained. "They welcomed us. The surgeons would say 'come up to the table.' They would stop and explain what they were doing. The thoracic surgeons were just so good with their patients. After the surgery, the patients all looked really happy."

On Wednesdays the students were led by the site managers on tours of the city. In addition, during one weekend the students went to Punta Del Este and stayed at an airbnb. According to Moore, she met a lot of people on the tours and excursions. She saw The Hand (a statue at the beach) and the Montevideo sign.

"One of the cool excursions was when we went to the U.S. Embassy," Moore noted. "The embassy contacted our site manager because we all had signed up with the U.S. Embassy to let them know we were going to be abroad. When we went there, they told us about all the resources we had while in Uruguay and told us where not to go because those neighborhoods were unsafe. They really cared for us, which I thought was really cool!"

"I learned things about myself that might help me as a captain (on the swim team) next year, such as I cannot change a personality to be more welcoming to others," Moore said.

"For example, one of my fellows (in Uruguay) was very shy and standoff-ish. She would always plug in her headphones when the group was together, and she would never interact in conversation no matter how hard I tried. I tried every single day until she told me that she didn't want to interact with everyone on the trip because of how she perceived part of the group acted toward her. I think this helped me to realize that not everyone enjoys interacting in the same way, and that as a group leader it is important to be respectful of each person's comfort level," Moore said.

For now, Moore is back in Salem and working at Kerr Concentrates. Kerr makes juices, purees and essences.

It won't be long before Moore is back at Willamette, taking classes and participating on the women's swimming team.

"Every experience that our swimmers have with new cultures and with new people will help them be better leaders in our program," Shevlin noted. "It is wonderful that Nandi was able to spend the time in Uruguay for her professional growth as well as her personal growth. A leader has to listen and put others first. They have to reach out and respect what others bring to the table. I think that during this trip, Nandi had some experiences that will allow her to do that for others next season."

Nandi Moore (Sr., Santa Clarita, CA/Golden Valley HS) Moore looks forward to encouraging her teammates throughout her senior season. After all, it's what she's been doing for three season.

"I try to bring them up," she said. "If they're in the pool, I'm either at the end of the pool or by the coaches cheering for them."

Moore also noted that she and teammate Rachel Harvill (Jr., Alamo, CA/Monte Vista HS) have been encouraging each other in the 50-yard freestyle. This past season, Harvill supported Moore in lowering her time below 27 seconds, while Moore pushed Harvill to drop below 25 seconds. They each accomplished their goals.

"At conference, she (Harvill) got in and made it to 24.74 and I swam it in 26.90. And I got to swim in the 200-yard freestyle relay (her split was 26.74)."

During the women's breaststroke events, Moore would point at the closest competitors to help Ashlyn Witherwax (Sr., Honolulu, HI/Punahou School) adjust her efforts in each race.

"She (Witherwax) was breaking records left and right," Moore commented. "I guess me pointing helps her go faster." Witherwax now holds Willamette's record in the 100-yard breaststroke at 1:06.94.

After completing her undergraduate degree and an MBA at Willamette, it will be on to medical school and eventually a total of seven years in general and thoracic surgical residency. At that point, Moore can advance to her ultimate career goal.

"I want to open my own private practice to help people without insurance," Moore said, adding that she wants to be a cardiothoracic surgeon.

Moore expects her work toward an MBA degree to help with the financial aspects of starting and maintaining a medical office. She hopes to build her practice with other doctors and providers she may meet in medical school and during residency. She hopes the group will share similar aspirations, with each member putting in a percentage of his or her salary to help keep prices affordable for patients. The practice may also include volunteers.

"I think it will be open every day," Moore said, noting that she won't personally be their all the time. "I will be at a hospital on occasion to do surgeries."

Moore's biggest desire is to provide affordable health care to those most in need.

"People who can't afford it don't go to the hospital until they're near death," Moore noted. "I'd like to get to them when it's early and not when they're on their last breath."