Intensive Doctor Shadowing: HCMP

I arrived at the front board of the operating room in the University Medical Center Brackenridge at 6:47 am, unaware that the day would be quite different from any of the previous times I shadowed a doctor. I ended up leaving the hospital that day at 8:45 - at night. Through 14 consecutive hours of shadowing a general surgeon, I was afforded the privilege of observing firsthand a day in the life of a doctor.

We began with a laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication, which is a procedure that wraps the upper portion of the patient’s stomach around the lower esophagus, typically to correct a hernia or to relieve acid reflux when medications are ineffective. After the surgery, the surgeon took me on rounds where he checked on his patients pre- and post-op. It was an educational experience to note his bedside manner and how he reassured patients who were apprehensive of undergoing surgery.

Afterwards, I was allowed to follow the surgeon to lunch with his colleagues and residents. Being able to listen to their conversations about their upcoming cases and discussing treatment plans for their patients, along with their life outside of work, was fascinating. We proceeded to the next case which was a colon resection of a patient with cancer. I was involved in research from the basic sciences perspective, investigating drug discovery and the genetics underpinnings for cancer. I was especially excited to see and ask the surgeon about the clinical aspect of caring for patients with cancer.

Finally, the third and last case for the day would prove to be the longest. The patient suffered a recurrent parastomal hernia, and the surgeon felt that the condition warranted surgery as soon as possible. Although a long operation, it was well-worth watching how the surgeon thought his way through a case that certainly was not routine. The day’s glimpse into the grueling work of a surgeon was an unforgettable and rewarding experience that invigorated my interest in medicine.

Being a part of the Health Careers Mentorship Program has brought me into contact not only with a variety of specialties from cardiothoracic surgery to pediatric dermatology, but also with some of the challenges involved in patient care. I can now better appreciate the difficulty in communicating with patients through a translator, or in caring for those who have no health insurance. I have been inspired by the tact of physicians when dealing with non-compliant patients. Speaking with medical students and hearing of how their perception of medicine is evolving throughout their education has been enlightening. The level of access offered through HCMP to doctors and the care they provide is remarkable. Moreover, I am fortunate to be a part of a community of fellow pre-medical students who have helped me along my journey, and I have learned much from them.

We believe that HCMP can offer pre-medical students opportunities to be exposed to medicine in ways that they have not been before, and to take away experiences that are unique to them. If you are interested in becoming a part of our organization, please attend one of our information sessions or visit us at our webpage listed below.

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30 Minutes of Something

Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA)