My experience was immediately started by greeting a very kind woman, Kim, who worked in a similar position as Maryann, whom I had been corresponding with prior to my arrival. After I was all set up with an ID and the matter of my OR clearance was figured out I waited to meet Dr. Denoya. Upon meeting her I found that she was a very warm and welcoming person that was open to the idea of providing me with knowledge that I did not have before. She also gave me a textbook that I could refer to for a deeper understanding of some of the terms, treatments and surgical procedures that she would use but made it clear that I could ask questions about anything.
We moved forward into two weeks filled with hospital rounds in the morning, clinical days at several locations, surgeries and other procedures that I had never seen before. I was able to witness an open surgery that involved the dissection of a part of the colon. I was also able to see Dr. Denoya treat her patients during her clinical days. This meant that I was able to see patients that were recovering from surgeries like the one that I had observed, some that only needed in office care and others that were considering or better understanding the surgical procedures that they would undergo. There was always so much to see and this meant that I was constantly learning about the human body in ways that I had never been able to before.
In addition, I was at the hospital during their Research day. This day long event allows residents, attending physicians and a variety of other medical staff at Stony Brook to gather and discuss research taking place at the hospital. The residents had prepared posters on a variety of topics within medicine in which each were aimed at making improvements to current procedures and ways to access knowledge about what doctors need to know to effectively help patients. This was a very informative but also somewhat surprising experience. Many of the residents and doctors alike were discussing new treatment protocols but some were also discussing protocols that had never existed. My understanding of medicine prior to being part of the Brandeis Summer Shadowing Program was that doctors had all the knowledge they needed to treat patients when in fact, they do have the knowledge but they too are still learning and looking for ways to alter treatment plans to better serve their patients. This reminded me of one of the things that I love about science and medicine, it’s always going to be a growing field and there will be new things to learn as we continue to learn more. Research day in particular gave me insight on how medicine is continuing to develop and it exposed me to differing perspectives in medicine I had not known existed.
Prior to arriving at Stony Brook I intended to also use this experience to explore how a medical school and a hospital work together as well as Stony Brook’s medical school. While I did not have a chance to tour the medical school or ask detailed questions about it, due to time, I was able to see how medical students, residents and doctors work together within the hospital to treat patients and communicate with each other. Through sharing ideas, asking questions and exchanging knowledge they were able to successfully treat patients in the colorectal unit. Being privy to these types of interactions allowed me a better understanding of the field that I plan to go into and caused me to consider a specialty that I had never previously considered.
I was excited and intrigued prior to having this experience and my expectations were exceeded. Dr. Denoya was an absolute pleasure to work with and learn from along with all of the other members of the colorectal unit that I was able to meet. A special thanks to Maryann, she was very diligent about all of the paperwork involved in the process and for that I’m deeply grateful. Altogether, this experience helped me gain insight into a field that I am interested in and also exposed me to a truly amazing group of professionals. I look forward to the connections and experiences that will grow from this one and I thank Brandeis for providing me with access to this opportunity.