This summer has flown by and I can’t believe I am already writing my mid-point post. I have had a truly incredible and eye-opening experience at Mass General and have immensely enjoyed the team of physicians I have been working with in the Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery program. Dr. Hudson has been our main liaison as we meet weekly to discuss and plan our schedule for clinic and the OR, and go over any questions that have come up during our shadowing or research. We have also been working closely with the other fellows and attendings of the department, and even sometimes the residents.
During clinic every Tuesday we often shadow a resident or fellow as they do the initial patient meeting to obtain a history, after which they discuss the case with the attending, develop a plan and then perform an exam together. I have really enjoyed observing this teaching dynamic as it helps me to better understand everything and gives me an opportunity to ask questions during the discussions, but it also has given me a glimpse at my future in these various roles. One thing I have found very interesting by observing this process is how every doctor has their own way to get a patient’s history or perform an exam, but they all make it clear that they want to help the patient discover the best option for themselves. In many of my HSSP classes we have discussed informed consent and a patient’s right to information, but it has been really interesting to see these physicians put this into action as they lay out all the possible options for treatment, discussing the risks and benefits and ask the patient what they want rather than telling them what is best. This is a practice I hope to one day implement as a physician as a way to help each patient obtain their ideal outcome.
Typically, one day a week we also observe in the operating room for a variety of procedures, vaginally, laparoscopically, and even with the Da Vinci robot. Every surgery is interesting and has its own hurdles and I have really enjoyed watching how the physicians discuss next steps and work together to make sure everything goes right. Additionally, many of the surgeries have been performed by fellows with attending instruction and supervision, which has allowed for great teaching moments for myself. One of my favorite things about the OR has been the combined cases I have been able to attend, one with GI and one with plastics. I have really found the entire idea of collaboration fascinating this summer throughout my experience and it has further driven my desire to pursue medicine.
When not observing I have also been helping the department build their Obstetric and Anal Sphincter Injury database, by using patients’ medical records to input data about these particular episodes. I have really enjoyed this research because it has been interesting to find trends in the data, and see how this research could be used to potentially prevent or develop better and more standardized treatment for these lacerations. This research has also taught me the value of thorough charting as we often have to leave many fields of the entry blank simply because the information is not there. This lesson is something I plan to take with me into my future to ensure that my chart notes are top notch.
Ultimately, so far this summer has been incredibly interesting and a very enjoyable experience. Going into this experience, I knew that medicine required collaboration but had no idea the extent to which it was necessary, but this element of collaboration is further driving my desire to pursue medicine. I really enjoy how the physicians bounce ideas off each other and how the attendings take to heart their role as a teacher. I have found that these aspects further enhance the medical field beyond just helping patients, and have peaked my interest in one day pursing academic medicine. I’m not sure exactly what my future holds but so far from my experience this summer I am fairly certain I’m on the right track and happy to be putting in the grueling effort to complete my medical school applications this summer.