Jen – Pre Departure

When I was a first year student at Brandeis University, I had slight idea that I wanted to go into the medical field. After three full years filled with its own hardships and rewards, I began to solidify my desire to have a career working with patients in a hospital setting. I am still unsure if I want to attend medical school or physician assistant school. I enjoy the social aspect of interacting with patients and I would like to incorporate my academic knowledge in my future career. Since I have never shadowed a physician before, I only have a vague idea of what their day to day life is like.

While volunteering at Massachusetts General Hospital in the Emergency Department, I have overheard many physician-patient, PA-patient, as well as nurse-patient interactions. I noticed a familiar trend with most physicians and other medical professionals. Physicians know how to interact with a wide variety of people, while being able to apply their medical knowledge and skills to treat their patients. I view physicians as being excellent leaders and care-givers. Perhaps my view of what a physician is may not yet be entirely reflective of the entire profession. However, after my shadowing experience with Dr. Denoya, I hope to have developed a clearer idea of what being a physician means.

For three weeks in the month of July, I will be shadowing Dr. Paula Denoya, a colorectal surgeon at Stony Brook Medicine. When considering possible medical specialties, I have contemplated fields such as dermatology, neurology, surgery, and emergency medicine. I am not entirely sure what the profession of a colorectal surgeon specifically entails; however, I am excited to begin my shadowing experience. I hope to observe how physicians interact with other medical professions and their patients. I aim to learn key communication skills from observing Dr. Denoya consult her patients. I believe this shadowing experience is a wonderful opportunity to learn and meet new people that can mold my mindset on the medical field.

I believe it would be extremely rewarding and fascinating to observe Dr. Denoya in the operating room and her interactions with her patients. Since I am still unsure if medical school and being a physician is the right path for me, I hope to leave Stony Brook Medicine with a sense of clarity. The shadowing experience will either confirm my desire in attending medical school or reveal an unexpected thought – that a physician’s career is not the right fit for me. Either way, I hope to end up with a solid decision to attend medical school or PA school.

The first couple of days shadowing Dr. Denoya was truly inspiration. On the first day I arrived at Stony Brook Medicine, I was able to go into the OR and observe a laparotomy performed by Dr. Denoya and a fellow. Not only was I able to see Dr. Denoya perform her duty as a colorectal surgeon, but I was also able to see how she interacts with the anesthesiologist, and nurses. The second day of shadowing Dr. Denoya consisted of something a little different. We were in a clinical setting and I observed Dr. Denoya’s interactions with patients in an outpatient environment. I have learned a copious amount in these two days and Dr. Denoya plays a key role role in expanding my knowledge of colorectal surgery. I never really knew what a colorectal surgeon was until I began my shadowing; hopefully, I will develop a more complete understanding for the profession by the end of my stay at Stony Brook Medicine with Dr. Denoya. I am excited to see what the remaining few weeks will entail.

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