This program has truly been a great experience and far exceeded my expectations. Going into the program, I was extremely nervous but Dr. Cataldo and his team immediately put me at ease on the very first day. My expectations for the experience consisted of simply observing the inner workings of the hospital, understanding the complexity of patient-provider interactions and applying some of my academic knowledge to my observations. While spending numerous hours in the clinic and OR, I feel like these goals have been achieved. I have witnessed the importance of teamwork whether it be in more dire situations like in the OR or in a friendly environment such as in the office. Everyone from the medical assistants to nurses, RNs and residents help the appointments go smoothly.
This experience at Beth Israel has certainly clarified my career interest in becoming a doctor. Not only that but it has opened my eyes to the realm of surgeons which I have learned is extremely demanding. While I had the luxury of leaving the operation room at any time for bathroom breaks or a lunch, my colorectal surgeon pushed forward to finish his surgery at hand before considering any breaks. Although surgery is exciting, I am not sure whether I can handle the demanding schedule and pressure with becoming a surgeon.
My advice to a student interested in shadowing is to not be afraid to speak out. Firstly, if you are trying to land a shadowing position, it would be beneficial to call the doctor’s office and/or email to ask. While shadowing, ask questions and be engaged. At Beth Israel, the staff is very friendly and knowledgeable. I was actually encouraged to ask questions by them. For those who are interested in shadowing at other institutions, I am sure this advice would also apply.
I am most proud of getting rid of my shyness and nervousness by the end of the experience. I felt intimidated by the staff at the beginning and was afraid of asking “stupid” questions. Of course, everyone was very welcoming and I eventually felt comfortable at the hospital.