Monica – Midway Point

I can’t believe it’s already halfway through! I’ve seen so many incredible procedures and interactions, met and had conversations with various people, and have gained so much knowledge these past few weeks. The first day I began shadowing was probably the most nervous I’d ever felt entering a new environment, mainly due to the fact that there were so many thoughts running through my head. Immediately Dr. Isenberg got to work, and I had only just started to grasp how jam-packed his workdays are. He is very friendly and made me feel comfortable being there, especially since I initially felt like I was constantly in the way. Although seeing a colonoscopy has since become normal for me, the first time I saw him perform one I was awed at how easy he made it look, and was captured by seeing the inside of a colon through a camera. Though I have to admit it was weird to see it at first, weird was quickly replaced by fascinated. I’ve seen him remove polyps inside the colon to preemptively get rid of any causes for cancer, and I am constantly amazed at how he can distinguish the different parts of the colon on the screen, since they all look the same to me!

I also witnessed him interacting with lots of patients. I like how he is able to communicate effectively and succinctly while still maintaining an amiable and caring persona. He goes into each appointment with a game plan already in mind, and asks more questions from the patient to confirm his thinking. It’s interesting to me to see how quickly he is able to draw conclusions by hearing about a patient’s worries or by checking them, because it shows how knowledgeable he is in his field. Many of the patients he sees have similar cases, but some have had different issues and some more serious conditions, namely cancer. I was shocked the first time when I heard Dr. Isenberg talking to his patients about the threat of cancer and ways to immediately start fighting it, because cancer can completely change a person’s life. However, after observing such cases for some time, it is no longer shocking and now I understand the seriousness of the situation and how a cancer can be life threatening. It was also amazing to see how the doctors set their emotions apart while treating their patients, knowing fully well that at times the results may not be very favorable and in some cases even fatal.

Another situation I observed was when doctors did not have all the answers to help solve the patient’s issue. When patients complained about having certain ailments to Dr. Isenberg, all he could tell them was to wait since nothing else would fix their problem immediately. I could understand the frustration from the patient’s side, but it was also interesting to see if from the doctor’s perspective: waiting was the best option because giving medicine or immediately operating wouldn’t help at all. Though patients come to doctors expecting for a quick fix, I learned that sometimes it’s not the case, and I also witnessed how some took the news well, while others not so much.

The coolest part of these past few weeks was definitely surgery. I’ve been able to see different surgeries ranging from cases such as fistulotomy and hemorrhoidectomy to more invasive ones like a laparoscopic removal of the colon and perineal proctectomy. I get to stand in the ER and watch everything- the patient getting put under, sterilizing the patient with betadine, the incisions and the actual surgery, suturing the cuts, and dressing up. The environment is a bit more relaxed than I thought it would be since they play music in the background! The doctors are still completely focused, of course. When Dr. Isenberg removed the colon from one patient, I couldn’t believe how big it was when he kept pulling and pulling it out from the incision he made! Then, the colon was just put in a pile on the table for a few minutes, and I was just staring at that patient’s colon. It was surreal, seeing a major organ outside of the body just lying there. Seeing surgeries and the work/effort that goes into it is giving me a new appreciation and perspective for the development of the medical world and the amount of procedures surgeons are able to accomplish.

Finally, being in the heart of Philadelphia where the all the actions are has been such a blast. It’s the perfect location for me to be in the hospital all day, and then walk around the city in the evening and explore everything that it offered, such as museums, restaurants, and outdoor activities. The hospital is located in the heart of the city, so there are a lot of patients that check-in with a wide variety of ailments so I get to see a varied types of cases. I’m very much looking forward to the next few weeks to see what else is in store!

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