I am currently working for Surgery Group Los Angeles which is a private practice group of 7 surgeons. Their office is located at Cedars Sinai Medical Center. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I am in the office 9am -5pm shadowing the physicians as they have appointments with patients whether they be new patients, follow-ups, pre-ops, or post-ops. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I have been spending 8 hours in Southern California Hospital at Culver City observing surgeries in the operating room. I have been shadowing four of the surgeons: Dr. Elizabeth Arena who is a surgical oncologist specializing in breast cancer surgery, Dr. Yosef Nasseri who is a colorectal surgeon, Dr. Moshe Barnajian who is also a colorectal surgeon, and Dr. Jason Cohen who is a general surgeon.
My couple weeks were so invigorating. In the hospital, I was able to observe colonoscopies, hemmorhoidectomies, massectomies, breast reconstructions, fistulotomies, a flexible sigmoidoscopy, an excision and fulgorarono of an anal condyloma. I have never been in the OR before so this was fascinating to me to learn how surgeries are run and to actually see a body open on the table. I was also so glad that it did not scare me at all. Even being in the office was very exciting and I loved to see patients.
Overall, I have learned so much about breast cancer, colorectal procedures and surgeries, and hernias. After seeing so many patients, I’ve really learned a lot about all of these different medical problems and conditions and how to treat them. Actual medical knowledge aside, I have also gained a lot of experience and advice from the doctors. Watching them, I get to learn how to interact with patients, how to deal with difficult ones or ones in pain, and how to interact with other medical staff. Additionally, I have sat down with all of them and we have had conversations about my goals and their path to where they are now. All of it is very inspiring but at the same time realistic because they do not sugar coat how hard the journey is. Working for a private practice, the physicians have also really explained to me the differences between private and academic settings and the pros and cons to both.
I am so grateful for this experience so far because it really renewed my passion for healthcare and becoming a physician. One thing that I learned about myself is that I am very dedicated to getting to where these doctors are and that I really enjoy the lifestyles that they live, which can be sleep deprived and hectic at times. Therefore, this experience has not changed my post Brandeis plans as I am still premed. In fact, I am even more determined to go to medical school.
All of the doctors I have spoken to have emphasized that it is important to work hard and that I have a long ways ahead of me. But they also all encouraged me to enjoy college and take a gap year after college. Before starting this program, I was on the fence about whether I should or not but at this point I have gained insight that it would be better for myself, my application, and my career path to take a year off. Specifically, one plastic surgeon, Dr. Dean who works close with Dr. Arena told me “you’re in it for the long run so there is no need to rush into anything. Take your time and live a balanced lifestyle while you can.” I will really take this lesson and advice to heart because I can tell it is coming from a genuine place from someone who has lived through it all before.
I still have a good amount of time left here and I am very excited to continue working here. My goal is to continue learning as well as forming connections with these doctors. Therefore, in the future this networking may be able to benefit me in terms of future jobs or letters of recommendation.