Cynthia, Final Thoughts

When I first started out shadowing Dr. Cataldo, I expected that I would follow him around and watch his interactions with patients and nurses, as I had done before when shadowing oncologists. This time, I was very excited, and a little nervous, to start off in the operating room. I had not done that before so I really did not know what would happen from that perspective. All of my ideas of what being in the operating room would be like came from watching television shows like Grey’s Anatomy. My experience in watching Dr. Cataldo in the operating room, however, far exceeded my expectations based on television. First off, I learned a lot about colorectal surgery and colon cancer from watching the surgeries. I watched multiple surgeries including ones that involve open, laparoscopic, and robotic surgeries. The surgeries seemed so high-pressured and complex, but the doctor and his team seemed to handle the surgeries effortlessly. I admired their confidence and experience in handling the surgeries and their dedication to helping the patients. I didn’t always see that confidence or dedication on television.

This experience has reaffirmed my goal of becoming a doctor. It has helped me determine which areas of medicine that I would like to explore the most: surgery, clinical, or a mixture of both. I have learned that I enjoy being where the situation is high pressure. I also like when everything is happening at a fast pace. Most of all, I learned that I really enjoy interacting with patients in the clinic, helping to answer their questions and address any concerns about their surgeries and medical condition. Before starting this program, I was a little nervous about the graphic detail and goriness of surgeries, but I found that it did not affect me much at all. Only one time did I feel a bit uncomfortable and lightheaded.

I highly recommend shadowing Dr. Thomas Cataldo at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. I would tell a student interested in shadowing Dr. Cataldo to ask him any and all questions even if they believe it would make them look clueless. As Dr. Cataldo says “The only question that is stupid is one that is not asked.” After each surgery and each visit with a patient in the clinic, Dr. Cataldo would always asked me and my fellow student whether we had any questions. He was always happy to answer any questions that we had and he always had a response. He also would summarize and review any new concepts that we learned and he would tell us key points of information about each patient. Even if a fellow student does not have the opportunity to shadow Dr. Cataldo, I would highly recommend shadowing an oncologist, especially in the operating room. The experience of watching a skilled surgeon helping a patient cannot be overstated. It’s also a much more interesting experiencing to witness a surgery live than watching it on television because you can look around and see all of the doctors and nurses contributing to its success.

I am most proud of the chance to assist Dr. Cataldo in the fast-paced action of the operating room. Watching his superb skill in performing surgeries and the attention he pays to his patients is something that I will always remember. It really has increased my interest in being a doctor and working in the medical field helping patients first hand.

I would like to say thank you to Dr. Thomas Cataldo, Dr. Leslie Garret, Michelle Torres, Erika Tai, and the medical students at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Each of them contributed to a wonderful summer of learning. I am grateful for their advice and willingness to share their valuable time with me. I had an extraordinary experience shadowing and I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity.

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