Penh – Midway Point

It has been four weeks since I first started shadowing Dr. Cataldo. I had initially felt nervous and unsure going into my first day but all that has changed. Dr. Cataldo along with the other doctors, nurses and residents have been extremely welcoming. It was comforting to know that rather than expecting me to grasp an understanding of the medical procedures and jargons, the primary focus was simply for me to get a glimpse into the life of a doctor. Dr. Cataldo stresses this and encourages me to ask questions. He also does his best to point out any details that I may have not noticed in my observations such as details regarding the responsibilities of residents. While most of my time is spent in the OR, I have also had the opportunity to follow Dr. Cataldo in the clinic and observed a couple of tumor boards where doctors of different specialties present cases of cancer and discuss. Throughout each setting, the staff remained composed and retained their easygoing personalities. I have grown to feel quite comfortable around the hospital.

Shadowing at this site allows me to come and go as I please depending on my schedule and of course, the doctor’s schedule. This has allowed me to take it easy while having a nice balance of clinical exposure, work and time for myself and friends this summer. The medical field is different from university life. It is very fast paced and much busier. Doctors work constantly even outside the hospital. Much to my surprise, paperwork take up a huge chunk of time and it is normal for doctors wake up early on their days off to complete them. In a sense, it is like a constant state of studying and preparing for college exams.

Throughout all medical decisions, communication is key. It is important to communicate effectively with patients, their families and the healthcare team. I was informed of this key feature going in but I was only aware about communicating the actions taken. For example, it is not uncommon for residents to admit that they do not know how to go about a procedure and ask for assistance or a doctor to ask for advice on how to treat a patient during tumor board. There is nothing wrong with uncertainty but what is wrong is not communicating these uncertainties especially when a patient’s health/life is at risk. Knowing this, I will try not hesitate to ask questions whether it be during shadowing, in the classroom or my future career.

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