Matthew, Final Thoughts

The experience exceeded my expectations. Dr. Cataldo and his colleagues were exceptionally welcoming and informative. Dr. Cataldo would often check in to make sure we were getting as much as we could from the experience. He would often ask us if we had any questions, and always had an answer. He has also allowed us to stay the rest of the summer! I want to make clear that I am not sure if he will do this in future years, but this should demonstrate how kind he was and continues to be to us. He also connected us to other doctors we can shadow over the summer. Next week I am going to shadow a medical oncologist! Then I will return to him. This experience has helped clarify my career interests. I am now more sure than ever that I would like to pursue medicine. The experience has complicated my view of medicine. I have learned that I can rise to the challenge of a fast-paced work environment and learn quickly under pressure. This experience was not exactly easy, but it was highly rewarding. It will challenge your preconceptions about medicine. If you are quicky to sympathy (as I am) it will require you to develop mentally so that you can deal with the suffering you see around you. There are a lot of grim outlooks, and a lot of gory surgery. That being said, most patients have options at this point. Not all of them are destined to die, but the ones that are will touch you. You need to be the kind of person that can take that to heart and carry on. I highly recommend the experience. I recommend it specifically to those who have the capacity for rapid personal development, that will be your biggest asset. Part of what you have to learn is how to incorporate sympathy and laser-focus into your thinking. You always have to move on, but that doesn’t mean you can’t acknowledge and smile at the patients (one specifically mentioned they appreciated it). I think this can be generalized to shadowing in the field. If you have a lot of questions, this is also a great opportunity for you. There were so many opportunities to ask questions! This is specific to the site. I am most proud of how I handled the difficulties of this job and how I integrated this experience into my view of medicine without being overwhelmed by its immense complexity.

I would like to thank Dr. Thomas Cataldo, Michelle Torres, Karen Lee, Erika Tai, and everyone at BIDMC and the Brandeis Pre-Health Team for this tremendous opportunity. I will be forever grateful. I would also like to thank the reader for following my posts. I highly recommend this site, so give it a shot! I was only a freshman when I applied, so don’t ever let your age fool you into thinking you don’t have a chance. You have a chance here to change your worldview, possibly to change your life, don’t let it pass you by.

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