Kate Wetzel, Final Thoughts

The second half of my shadowing internship was just as rewarding and inspiring as the first. During the second half of my shadowing, I spent more time in the surgery group’s office than I did in the operating room. While the operating room can be more thrilling, I still learn a lot in the office as I get to see more cases and more patients. Most days, I was in the office 9:00am – 5:00pm shadowing all of the doctors throughout the day as patient after patient came in with their various concerns, pre-op appointments or post-op appointments. As stated in my previous reflection, there are a variety of surgeons and surgical oncologists who work in the office, so I was able to see things from anal fissures to breast cancer to skin cancer to hernias. I have learned a lot through this experience, and I was able to make many connections between the anatomy course that I took last semester. 

I spent a good amount of my time shadowing a doctor that had not been around the office during the first half of my internship. Dr. Ellenhorn is a general surgeon and surgical oncologist. I was able to observe him in the operating room as he repaired hernias and I also was able to see many different cases in the office, as he is a general surgeon. It was interesting being able to shadow him alongside the other doctors because he is relatively older. This means that he had different perspectives on not only medicine but on his journey to become a surgeon. 

My favorite aspects of this internship were my ability to connect with the doctors, their willingness to teach and share information, and most of all the advice that I received about the long road that I have ahead of me as a premedical student. Hearing their stories gave me a better perspective on how I should approach my future including medical school and every step that lies beyond that. This was the most valuable information that I got out of the internship as earlier in the summer I was feeling overwhelmed by everything that was coming my way. The only aspect that could have been improved was that I wish I was given more tasks. For the most part, I was always on my feet observing the doctors and absorbing knowledge but every once in a while, in between patients I would have some downtime and I wish that I could have at least been given some small tasks so that I could help out in any way possible. 

I am extremely grateful that I was able to achieve the three goals that I set for myself at the beginning of the internship in my first reflection. I have definitely come out of my shell and learned not to be scared to talk to the surgeons in the office, I learned more than I ever expected I would, and I believe I made connections with healthcare professionals that could help me in the future. Through this experience I not only grew as a student, but I grew as an individual. I gained so much insight on the responsibilities, difficulties, advantages, and lives that doctors experience every day. Throughout my first two years of college, my determination to become a doctor dwindled slightly as I was not able to experience healthcare first-hand through opportunities such as this one due to COVID-19. However, this experience truly renewed my passion for the field and while I am very aware of the work I have ahead of me, I am ready for it.  

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Kate Wetzel, Midway Point

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.

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Kate Wetzel,Pre-Departure

 

Tomorrow I am beginning my summer shadowing internship with the surgeons of the Surgery Group LA. While this program is specifically coordinated with Dr. Yosef Nasseri who specializes in Colorectal Surgery, there are five other surgeons who I will also be working with in the office who specialize in general surgery, breast cancer, thyroid surgery, and skin cancer surgery. Through this opportunity I will be working in the office 9am-5pm every weekday for this following month in addition to having the ability to observe certain surgeries occurring in the Cedars Sinai Medical Center Hospital. While I have worked in a hospital before, nothing I have experienced has even come close to this. In the past I have not had the opportunity to work in such close proximity for such long durations with renowned surgeons, so I am not without nerves as I embark on this internship. While I am slightly intimidated by this seemingly daunting experience, I am also very excited. I am always open to learning new things, being in new environments, and meeting new people.

Before beginning work tomorrow, I have set my intentions and objectives for the next month. My first goal for this internship is to come out of my shell and not be intimidated by those who are more accomplished than myself. Sometimes I tend to hold back a little more when I am around others who are further along in the career path that I am hoping to follow because I feel as though anything I say will pale in comparison to all of the knowledge that they already have. However, I have learned in the past that those who are further along tend to want to help those that are working their way up and will want to share their wisdom. There is nothing wrong with asking for help, directions, or information and that is one thing that I want to keep in mind throughout this internship. Another experience I would like to get out of this internship is to soak up as much knowledge as I can about the career of a surgeon, working in healthcare, and the medical field in general. Although I have had many chances in the past to work in a clinical setting, it has been a few years and things change. Additionally, I have never worked so closely with surgeons before and I think this will be a unique opportunity for me where I can truly learn a lot about the human body and modern medicine. My final goal for this upcoming month is to make connections with those that I am working with and network. I am well aware that for my future in this industry or in any industry that one is trying to pursue, networking and having good relationships with others in the field can be very useful. Talking to and making connections with those working in this medical office could help me get even more opportunities in the future. But more importantly it would be extremely rewarding to form a strong relationship with such accomplished professionals. 

While I am not entirely sure what to expect on a day to day basis in the surgery group’s office, I am hoping to be exposed to many different medical phenomena, patients, medical professionals, and even possibly surgeries. I am hoping that there will not be too much downtime as I thrive off of being busy and learning.  

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Lydia, Final Thoughts

My experience shadowing at MGH this summer has been a thoroughly rewarding one. Throughout my time observing and doing research, I have gained an appreciation for the field of urogynecology and how it helps improve the quality of life for countless women. Since the midway point, Caylee and I completed our work on the perineal tears database. Our new project, case-control matching for a study involving women with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and urogynecological symptoms, involves going through many medical records. This differs from our last research project in which we went through fewer subjects but examined each in more detail. Both projects have allowed me to become more familiar with EPIC, one of the main goals I had for the summer.

I asked some of the fellows how they decided to go into urogynecology. My inquiries revealed that all of them had done OB GYN residencies and had then decided, based on their experiences, to subspecialize in urogynecology. I better understood the differences between the Urogynecology and Labor and Delivery workplace environments after observing a C-section. The atmosphere of the Labor and Delivery unit was much more frantic and fast-paced. The surgery itself was also more rushed and less meticulous than those I had observed in urogynecology.

In addition to my time in the OR and clinic, I have been attending didactic and journal club sessions roughly once a week. Similar to observing in the OR, a lot of the information goes over my head. It has still been beneficial to attend these sessions, however, and see how the different doctors process the information and ask questions.

I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to observe and do research at MGH this summer. It has been very educational, not just about urogynecology specifically, but also about the daily life of a doctor. Although I knew the importance of continuing education going in, I was surprised by how much the doctors were constantly reading about their field and incorporating it into their practices. This experience has affirmed for me that I wish to go into the medical field.

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Chase, Midway-Final

It has been an amazing experience so far at Thomas Jefferson Hospital. So far, I have gotten to witness cool procedures in the operating room, colonoscopies, and office hours. Observing Dr. Isenberg has been such a cool opportunity as he makes difficult procedures look so seamless. My first day I observed Dr. Isenberg perform 10 colonoscopies back to back as he spotted hidden polyps in the colon with such ease. At first it was hard for me to follow, but as he explained certain landmarks, he looks for in the colon I started to be able to kind of keep track of where he was. For example, he explained to me that the transverse colon has more of a triangular shape compared to the ascending and descending colon. I also got to observe a couple of other doctors perform endoscopies, which was also very exciting as I got to see the inside of the esophagus and stomach all the way down to the pyloric sphincter. 

In the operating room I have gotten to witness routine quick procedures like hemorrhoidectomies and also a longer surgery called an abdominoperineal resection, more commonly called an APR. The APR is often a last resort for patients who have rectal cancer or Crohn’s disease. It involves the complete resection of the patient’s anus and rectum and ultimately results in a colostomy. It was especially cool watching the surgeons interact during the surgery and decide which planes to dissect on the patient. Also, watching different type of surgeons collaborate during a single surgeon has been really amazing. Within a single surgeon I got to witness Dr. Isenberg, a colorectal surgeon, a plastic surgeon, and a urologist all discuss the best course of treatment for a single patient. In my remaining few weeks I hope to be able to witness more surgeries and try to learn as much about the hospital environment as possible. 

I would to thank Dr. Isenberg, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, and the Brandeis Pre-health department especially Erika Tai for arranging this opportunity. Overall it was an amazing and eye-opening experience. My favorite and the most interesting part of the experience was definitely the opportunity to experience clinic with Dr. Isenberg just because of the number of different patients and cases I got to witness. Even though some of the cases I saw were extremely sad, watching Dr. Isenberg listen to the symptoms of the patients and then examine the affected area followed by a seemingly instant diagnosis of the problem was truly astounding. I also had the opportunity to hear a lot of personal stories from the Medical students and residents about their experiences in medical school and residency that were very informative and helped me decide my future in pursuing medicine. Although clinic was the most interesting part of my experience, watching surgeries and being in the operating room was definitely the coolest part of the experience. It was amazing watching the scrub nurses, anesthesiologist, and surgeons work in unison to accomplish a common goal. 

Finally, I would like to thank Dr. Isenberg again and also wish good luck to the fourth-year medical students who I shadowed with as they apply to their residency programs. This site was truly amazing experience and I will be returning to Thomas Jefferson University hospital over winter break to shadow Dr. Isenberg again. 

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Justin, Final Thoughts

The Brandeis Summer Shadowing Program was a great experience and I am so glad that I was able to participate in it. I made many lasting memories and learned even more valuable lessons about the medical field. Dr. Sher was an amazing mentor and I cannot thank him enough for all of his help and support.

One of my biggest takeaways is that medicine is really team oriented. Even though the surgeon will be the one making the cuts, it is the entire surgical team that must work together to ensure a successful operation. One example is I never realized how important surgical counts were until I observed an operation. The scrub nurses are responsible for keeping track of the surgical counts and if even one sponge is left unaccounted for the operation cannot be declared finished. They also make sure the surgeon has all of the equipment to perform the operation. I have learned this can be become very challenging in more complex operations. I really like the team atmosphere involved in surgery and it suits me well as I enjoy working with others towards a common goal.

The summer shadowing program has also shown me the high intensity of surgery. The very first day I shadowed Dr. Sher I asked him if he felt it was difficult to maintain a healthy work life and balance. He said that it was difficult, but definitely possible. The next thing he said really stuck with me, “In life if you want to be excellent at something you have to put a lot of time into it, surgery is no different.” Surgery itself is a balancing act where the patient’s life may lie in the balance. Excellence is a requirement not a goal, which is why being a surgeon is a difficult lifestyle. It is a definitely a lifestyle I would consider and my experiences during this program have offered great insight into being a surgeon.

Once again, I would like to thank Dr. Sher and his team for all of their help during this program. I would also like to thank the volunteer department for helping me through the tedious clearance process. This program has been unforgettable, and it has helped me learn many great lessons.

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Jared, Final Thoughts

As my summer internship at Mass General comes to an end, it comes time to look back  on my experiences throughout these past couple of months. Time is a precious commodity that  I have been guilty of taking for granted, as many people often realize once it’s too late.

Throughout my undergraduate experience at Brandeis, I prioritized my academic career almost  to a fault; in other words, I did not fully appreciate the extent of research available right at my  fingertips on campus. Perhaps that was because I was subconsciously avoiding the experience  outright due to its intimidating aura. In any regard, this aside is relevant to my current reflection  because it makes this past summer that much more meaningful in perspective. The immediate research setting and immediate team I worked with were inviting, thereby removing the anxiety
and foreboding stereotype I spoke about regarding research.

Another aspect of research that I found difficult to appreciate was the monotonous nature of counting colonies or the small scale of research over a specific protein in a mechanism. The purpose behind the study is relevant to a wide audience, which intrinsically made my contributing role feel meaningful. Unfortunately, extensive research on air pollution is
required, especially with problematic air quality that will only be worsening further in subsequent  generations. Still, I respect and understand the relevance of the research being conducted on  campus; I personally did not find it inherently fascinating enough to pursue.  I was able to work on public EPA data curation from home or at the hospital campus
itself, which made the process of studying for the MCAT exam a little easier throughout the  summer. However, on days designated for the research project, it was personally difficult to allocate time to both endeavors.

Handling large amounts of data was tedious but eventually  rhythmic and felt like clockwork by the end of that step, despite difficulties that arose with the website sporadically. I saw firsthand how busy a doctor truly is, and I will always respect their dedication and time spent improving the lives of patients. I look forward to being in this position one day,  allowing undergraduate students to shadow or assist in various research tasks to better others and themselves in the process. I am thankful that the Pre-Health advising team granted me this  opportunity and will be in touch with those involved in the program for years to come as I continue the motions through medical school into becoming a practicing physician.

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Jigme, Final Thoughts

I just completed my program at Long Island Jewish Medical center with Dr. Sher and I must say that it was one of my best experiences. This experience exceeded my expectations. Not only did I get to watch Dr. Sher but he allowed to me get hands on experience by teaching me to use the colonoscopy and making me watch minor operations.

Overall, this experience made me feel that medicine is the right career path for me. Watching Dr. Sher interact with patients and help them get better is what I want to see myself doing everyday in the future. From my workplace this summer, I have learned that I love interacting with people. When I was shadowing Dr. Sher, I enjoyed talking to staff, patients and other people I meet.

Lastly, advice I would give to a student interested in Brandeis shadowing program would be to not be shy and talk to your supervisor and staff. I have learned a lot about the medicine field and different career opportunities after connecting with different medical professionals at my workplace. Moreover, another advice for a student interested in medicine field is to never give up. Don’t worry about what others think. Focus on yourself and do what you want. The path may seem like a long run but if that is what you want, you should always be determined and you will get there. From this summer something that I am most proud of is taking on a case report project. Dr. Sher is guiding me and we are currently researching on a rare disease to write an article about it. I am very proud that I took on this research.

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Lev, Final Thoughts

Working for the surgical department at Massachusetts General Hospital has truly been an eye- opening opportunity, and it’s hard to believe that the summer is nearly coming to a close. This internship has made for a wonderful experience, and it has really helped me to move closer to
my academic and career goals. Although I am sad that the summer is almost over, I am nonetheless very excited to say that I will be continuing to work with Lieba Savitt N.P., Dr. Liliana Bordeianou, Dr. Rocco Ricciardi, and others conducting research during the fall semester.

I enjoyed this internship for a wide variety of reasons. As I’ve discussed in prior blog posts, this internship mainly involves conducting research and shadowing colorectal surgeries. Both aspects of the experience have been really fascinating, and I’ve been able to learn so much about medicine and become more passionate about the field as a result. With respect to the research component, I have been able to get more involved with exciting
projects conducted by the department. In addition to continuing to work on the patient quality of life assessments, I have begun a new project, working with Dr. Ricciardi to assess worldwide trends in mortality caused by inflammatory disease of the colon. I have been working to collect data for many countries in the study, and have already even begun to observe some fascinating trends. As I plan ahead for my involvement at MGH in the fall, I anticipate spending a significant portion of my time on this fascinating project.

Additionally, the time I have spent shadowing has continued to become even more enjoyable throughout the summer. This internship has really been my first exposure to working a clinical environment, and, as mentioned in prior posts, it has been truly inspiring. Observing the
physicians who perform such surgeries has been incredible, largely due to the high degree of interaction I have had with the doctors who I have shadowed. When in the operating room, we have been given the opportunity to ask questions or simply just talk with the physician about
what he/she is doing, and such interaction has made the experience so much more meaningful.

Many of these physicians have so many incredible things to say and lessons to teach, and it is really a privilege to be able to learn from them. Additionally, since my last blog post, I have also been given the opportunity to observe several operations I had not previously seen, gaining more exposure to this incredible and complex field of surgery.

Overall, this internship has turned out to be an enjoyable and enlightening opportunity. My excitement for medicine and research has increased exponentially since beginning the program, and as I look ahead to my career, I am sure this summer will serve as a very formative experience, guiding me in the transition from college to the beginning of my professional journey.

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Ruchir, Final Thoughts

As the summer is approaching its end, I am very glad I decided to go through with the opportunity to work in the Colorectal Surgery Department at Mass General. Over the past two months, I have seen many different types of surgeries right in front of my eyes, gone rounding with doctors visiting the patients they’ve operated on, and worked on multiple projects led by nurses and doctors in the office.

Seeing surgeries up close is a very unique opportunity. After seeing many, I have realized the attention to detail, level of expertise, teaching aspect, and amount of care that is present in each and every operating room. These components are seen in every surgery on every level, from surgeons to nurses and to residents. Even medical students are incredibly helpful to have in the operating room as they are also usually eager to answer questions that we undergrads have. After the surgeons finish operating on their patients, the patients typically have a recovery window in which the surgeon visits and speaks with the patient. I also found this to be an eye-opening experience because it highlights how at the end of the day, it is also necessary to show personal care. It is important for the surgeon to assure the patient that they are recovering on the right track, and in the case that a complication arose, their next responsibility is to decide the right course of action.

Furthermore, being in this hospital environment has allowed me to learn about many different roles, not just the one of a doctor. I have tried to make the most of my time by speaking with scrub nurses, residents, and
medical students and I have found this incredibly useful for better understanding the field. The research component of my time this summer has showed me some of the less obvious aspects of improving the quality of surgeries and treatment. By studying and compiling pre-operative surveys of patients with bowel-related problems, we hope to gain insight into the effectiveness and results of surgeries on these patients. Additionally, I am helping on the beginning of a project looking at data of people around the world who have died from diverticulitis. These two projects are very exciting since they incorporate two ends of the research spectrum; one end where patients have not undergone surgery for their problems yet and another end where people have unfortunately already passed from their condition.

Once again, this summer has proven to be a great learning experience for me and has given me a lot of exposure to the surgical field as well as the medical research field. I am excited to continue this into the school
year with the aid of healthcare professionals like Lieba Savitt N.P., Dr. Ricciardi, Dr. Kunitake, and Dr. Bordeianou, and other undergrads in the office.

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