After earning her MD at Saba University School of Medicine, Jaclyn O’Connor went to a highly coveted three-year internal medicine residency at Yale University School of Medicine—a big accomplishment. But an even bigger accomplishment was when her mother suddenly became paralyzed and Jaclyn intervened to make the correct diagnosis.
“Shortly after I received my diploma and was home, my mother became paralyzed from the neck down after a flu shot. At the hospital, the doctors diagnosed the problem as a herniated disc and were planning to treat her accordingly. From my training at Saba, I believed it was Guillain-Barre syndrome [in which the body's immune system attacks the nerves] and told them so...which turned out to be accurate. I don’t know if I saved her life or not, but my Mom certainly thinks I did. ‘Thank you Saba.’”
A 2007 graduate of Drexel University-Pennoni Honors College, Jaclyn was working in pain management at an ambulatory surgery center when she first heard about Saba from a physician she worked alongside. She had always wanted to go to med school, and at this center she gained not only surgical experience but learned the business of medicine as well. She found it all fascinating.
“The island of Saba was great for me, and the benefit of having the peace and quiet to study was huge. It really enabled me to concentrate on the curriculum without any distractions.” While at Saba, Jaclyn also took advantage of Saba's collaboration with Davenport University to work toward an MBA online.
After completing Saba’s core Basic Science program on the island, she went onto her two-year clinical training. “I had the chance to go to various hospitals which gave me such insight and appreciation for how different hospitals do things. I don’t think I would have gotten this if I had been doing my clinicals all in the same place. It was really helpful for my residency match—I had connections at so many different places. I was able to develop a great rapport with multiple program directors."
Jaclyn began her residency in July, 2016 in the Yale program at Bridgeport Hospital, where she also did some of her clinical rotations and also co-wrote with a Yale attending physician, “Less Is More in the ICU: Resuscitation, Oxygenation and Routine Tests”—another accomplishment to be proud of, but still not the same as saving your mom.