Matthew, Midway Point

My new environment has been interesting, informative, and enriching. I absolutely love Dr. Cataldo, his dedication coupled with his intelligence and kindness have really made me feel welcomed. I am really happy that I was given this opportunity. My preconceptions about the medical field and surgery in particular have been challenged, and I am very grateful. The patient interaction was interesting to say the least. I met a variety of patients, from those who showered Dr. Cataldo with thanks for saving their lives, to those dying or needing a permanent colostomy. How he handled these situations speaks volumes about what kind of traits and viewpoints are necessary to become a surgeon. I spoke with him about what he believes are the most important factors in surgery. He stated that there is something in the soul of a surgeon, that to care deeply about your patient and to cut them open requires a certain type of person. Undoubtedly, he has provided invaluable advice so far! When I was first in the OR, it was very jarring but infinitely interesting. Very quickly, we moved from interacting with an average person to staring into the bowels of an unconscious one. It was very eye-opening. I had viewed surgeries online before, but having the person in front of you in the OR really is an entirely different experience altogether. It is something that needs to be experienced. Needless to say, the wealth of information and experiences has necessitated some adjustments in how I think about surgery and medicine in general. Luckily, it has only increased my interest so far. I also attended tumor board meetings and clinic. I love the type of interaction I observe between departments and doctors in these areas. I love the surgeries. They are strange, but I can’t help but be interested in what is going on in the OR near 100% of the time. It’s really astounding. 

The medical field is not altogether dissimilar from university/academic life. There is ample interdisciplinary interaction between the different aspects of medicine in patient-specific problems that arise. This is similar to that encouraged in the QBReC program that I am a part of. Learning is at the forefront in my experience, and most doctors I have met are happy to teach which is so encouraging. The main difference is that in medicine it seems the information you learn is constantly being applied (which I love and have always looked for in a profession) as opposed to university where the current application is limited.

I am learning about patient-physician interaction, physician-physician interaction, the daily life of a colorectal surgeon, and whether I want to pursue this or similar aspects of medicine. I am gaining a broader understanding of the medical field and how complex problems are solved with limited information. I am developing connections and learning how to interact with patients and physicians.

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