Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Why Yesterday Was Awesome

Soooo I have to admit, I have been pretty lazy when it comes to posting regularly, and then I literally became too busy/too exhausted after "work" to really want to do much more than catch up on my favorite blogs at night.  But Dr. J has been at me to write down my experiences and thoughts because I'll probably need to remember what I did, why and how when it comes to medical school interviews.  

So, this is why my day yesterday was AWESOME. 

Picture courtesy of Wikipedia
I finally worked up the courage to ask Dr J if I could shadow her during one of her shifts at the hospital.  After a number of phone calls, everything was set up.  

I got to see some pretty ridonkulously crayzee awesome stuff...I watched an OBGYN doctor remove a lesion from a female patient and then remove an ectopic pregnancy from another patient.  Then I watched a super cool but uber high-tech cardiac electrophysiology surgery to treat a patient with atrial fibrillation.  

The highlight of my day was watching a friendly and talkative cardiovascular surgeon perform a coronary artery bypass graft from behind the anesthesiologist's curtain.  Getting to watch a highly-invasive open-heart surgery is such an incredible and rare sight to see up-close, even for those within the medical profession.  Many surgeons do not want an unnecessary distraction.  And even if observers are allowed to come in and watch, they are often pushed up against the farthest reaches of the room and largely ignored.  But this experience was different:  the surgeon was nice enough to invite me to the fore-front, behind the safety of the anesthesiologist's curtain, to watch him suture each graft to the heart.  And because 5'1 people can't see much, they even gave me a freakin' stool.  A STOOL TO STAND ON!! SWOON.  The surgeon, the assisting surgeon, and the anesthesiologist were ridiculously friendly.  They went out of their way to give me an up-close view and took time and effort to tell me about their life's work, even though I didn't want to interrupt and ask questions.  It was very intimidating to walk into a huge O.R. filled with four busy doctors, three nurses and a huge cardiopulmonary bypass machine with a LOT of blood.  Looking back, I wish I could have gone back in during the second surgery to stare at the bypass machine more.  Watching the heart slowly start beating again is a priceless and beautiful experience that made me giddy and lightheaded with excitement.  

I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to see so many different types of procedures and to be treated with respect and consideration as if they were mentoring me.  All of the nurses and surgeons I talked to were very friendly, accommodating to my unspoken curiosity and willing to teach me something.  I suspect I picked the right day to drop by the O.R: lots of relatively simple out-patient cases.

The recent Mommy Wars debates have made me think how fortunate I am to never have met a doctor like Dr. Sibert, even though I would never have asked her, "Is Anesthesiology a good field for women?"  A relatively young cardiac electrophysiology surgeon I talked to yesterday told me that for many young students, picking a career or a medical specialty is very much a leap of faith or a crap shoot that is based on one's impression of people he or she interacted with over a short interval of time.  Unfortunately, this means that someone might have rejected the perfect medical specialty because he/she thought the resident or attending physician was a jerk.  Luckily, I met many very fun and friendly anesthesiologists before reading Dr. Sibert's article...The moral for me is to keep my mind open at all times towards opportunity, regardless of who I come to respect or dislike in the future.  

I hope that as I move on and up, I get to meet good doctors who care about their patients and their students, and that they keep in mind that small acts of kindness to wide-eyed pre-meds and med students can go a long way in ways they cannot even imagine.  

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a fabulous early exposure to medicine. As someone who is now five years into my formal medical training, I can say that the jerk to good person ratio is generally very low amongst the attendings. But there are still a fair number of jerks who will make comments like Dr. Sibert, so it's good that you're able to judge the comments on your own and reject the ones that stem from bitterness and resentment.

    Good luck with the MCAT and all the things that come after.