On Friday, after morning rounds, I watched a femoral artery (or vein?) bypass. Although this one was vascular surgery (Natalie’s area), she wasn’t in this surgery. It was Dan, Ramesh, and Dr. Choudhury. I managed to accidentally insult Dr. Choudhury because when he walked in, I said, “Oh you’re here. You’ll get to help. Are you going to be first assist or second assist?” Choudhury just stared out at me and said, “What do you mean I’m here? I’m the boss. I’ve been doing this 15 years.” He wasn’t mad or anything, but because I spent so much time with Dan on rounds, I tended to think of Dan as “the boss” even though technically the real boss is Dr. Wilson, who I wish I could have seen more of because I never got to see him operate.
For the actual surgery, Dr. Choudhury and Ramesh worked on the right leg and Dan did the left leg. The point of this surgery is to basically rewire you or improve the blood flow from one side of the leg to the other. This one had a super long prep. Surgery was scheduled for 8:30 a.m., but the initial incision didn’t occur until 9:40 a.m. This one wasn’t as interesting for me to watch because it wasn’t laprascopic, and because there were so many people, it was tough for me to see around all of the doctors. For most of it, I watched from the anesthesia side. Bill let me camp out with him. At some point, they took a silver tube and cut slits in the skin and “tunnelled” from one side to the other. Because the whole thing took almost 3 hours and I was getting restless, I bailed out when they were about to do the closing. I needed food.
After lunch, I watched a quick MOP with Natalie before heading over to the clinic. Natalie and I had discussed the possibility of me shadowing some of the other doctors, namely the Chief of Internal Medicine (IM) since this is an area I’m interested in. At this point, it was about 3:00 p.m. on Friday so I was wondering if it was even worth it. I was so absorbed in surgery that there wasn’t a lot of time to hit the other departments, but I was still interested and was hoping to do rounds with the IM guys. I did briefly meet with the IM Chief, Dr. William Hutchinson, and I have to say I enjoyed my time in surgery so much more! I was hoping I would get to round with him and his group, but he spent the majority of our time grilling me on why I want to become a doctor, etc. It was exactly like being in an interview for medical school so clearly I will have to work on my responses because he didn’t seem convinced of my desire to do this.
Finally, he finished his medical school lecture and launched into a lecture on anatomy. This was much more interesting for me. He is an “intensivist,” and I’m not sure what that means exactly but his personal area of expertise is the pulmonary system (heart and lungs). He said he grew up with asthma and so did a lot of his family so that sparked his desire to be a doctor. He was a traditional student and knew from age 8 that he wanted to be a doctor. For this reason, I think I was a big disappointment to him b/c I didn’t have the burning desire at birth to be a doctor. Whatever. I don’t care what he thinks.
After the brief anatomy lecture, we finally went to a patient’s room. Yeah! He showed me the ventilator and what each measurement was, and by now I’ve forgotten it, but I appreciated the fact that I finally got something useful out of this dreadful experience. After this all-too-brief encounter, he walked me back to the SICU where he proceeded to ask me a whole bunch of inappropriate questions about my personal life. Because it wasn’t a medical school interview and because I have nothing to hide, I told him the truth.
Finally, I left on Saturday after morning rounds. After the medical students left, we did “speed rounds” with just myself and the residents. On Saturdays, rounds occur at 7:00 a.m. so I got to sleep in a little bit. Natalie went over earlier b/c she had extra patients now that the medical students were gone. I stayed to pack and got there right before 7:00 a.m. After rounds, I followed Doug down to the ER to check on a patient who came in overnight with bleeding stools. I don’t know if he will end up having surgery as the IM will also have to work him up and then IM and Surgery can duke it out over who gets him. After that, Natalie took a few pictures with me and Doug and Dan. Ramesh was on vacation so he wasn’t there, and the medical students had already left for their next rotation. The attending physicians don’t work on weekends and it’s more relaxed even for the residents b/c they don’t have surgery although relaxed is a relative term!
So that’s my long saga of a week in surgery. It was totally awesome. I was hungry and sleep-deprived but I still loved my experience. I loved being there, and I honestly felt like I was making a difference in these old guys’ lives. After experiencing it firsthand, it has fuelled my desire to become a doctor even more!
P.S. Natalie, if you read this, please e-mail me or PM me with an update on some of the patients I mentionned in my posts. You know who they are. I hope they are doing better. Thanks.
I must say I really enjoyed reading through all your shadowing days. Thanks for sharing. Sounds like you had a wonderful time.
After experiencing it firsthand, it has fuelled my desire to become a doctor even more!
Me too!!! What an excellent synopsis you put together for us to all share. I was visualizing every moment you wrote about and I can’t wait to get there…as long as I pass years 1 & 2. Forget about Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure!!! It’s the Natalie and Stacy’s Excellent Adventure that needs to go into production! How about posting up some of those pics?
I’m in total agreement with the others - this was so cool to read! It sounds like SO much fun!
Thanks for posting!
Stacy, as always, thank you so much for sharing. It really makes me feel like I was right there with you and inspired. Thanks!
Thanks for taking the time to tell us about your experience. Reading these kinds of posts keeps us all excited and motivated by providing something in the “real world” to hang our science studies on. So glad you had such a rewarding experience.