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Vital Signs

Medicine and music are in perfect harmony for Rebecca Rotello

By Ann Patterson

Ah, the hectic life of a thirdyear medical student. Caring for patients, writing up cases, going to choir practice . . . Choir practice? For third-year DMS student Rebecca Rotello, singing is a priority—one that even the heavy demands of her clinical clerkships cannot preclude.

Voice: "I've been singing since I was in grade school," says Rotello, an alto. But it wasn't until high school that she began to take singing seriously. "One of my directors said, 'You've got a pretty good voice, you should take voice lessons,'" Rotello recalls. She continued with lessons through college.

When Rotello entered DMS, a fellow student suggested she try out for the Handel Society, Dartmouth College's 200-year-old choral group. Rotello cites good time-management skills as key to balancing the demands of medicine and music. In addition, she says the support she's received from DMS faculty and the Handel Society director has been instrumental in her ability to pursue both her passions. For example, she explains that she "was allowed to switch a third- year rotation with a rotation normally done

Rotello paused for this photo op while in Austria with the Handel Society.

in the fourth year. . . . And the choral director has been flexible with me in terms of rehearsal attendance."

It was this flexibility that allowed Rotello to join the chorus for an international tour in December. "It was a fantastic experience," she says. They visited Austria (performing in Vienna and Salzburg) and Italy (performing in Verona and Florence). For Rotello, who had never been to either country, the highlight "was singing for Sunday morning mass at the Dom in Salzburg," she says. "It was such a beautiful space to sing in, I couldn't believe I was actually there. I had to pinch myself."

Rotello is the first one in her family to attend medical school, but her love of music clearly has genetic roots. "My dad has been a church choir director for as long as I can remember," she says. "And one of my brothers is a singer. We have a lot of fun when we get together."

Outlet: She finds singing a wonderful diversion. "Medical school can be stressful at times, but music is relaxing," she says. "I think I am more engaged and more focused [on school] because I have this outlet." She's still not sure what specialty she'll go into. But there's one thing she is sure about: "Music will always be a part of my life—it has to be."

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