These past two years of college have certainly been an experience. Perhaps my favorite part of that experience has been the Earth, Life, and Time program that I am fortunate to be a part of. ELT has given me a greater appreciation and understanding of the natural sciences, as well as the very nature of science itself. It has also given me the opportunity to pursue what I hope to do in the coming years. It allowed me to apply what I had learned in the classroom and apply it in the real world. For my practicum project, I had the great fortune of shadowing an orthopedic surgeon. All of his duties and activities took place at Good Samaritan Hospital, located in Baltimore, Maryland. I had worked thrice in a local hospital in the area called the Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC). Twice, I worked in a surgical unit (pre-op and post-op) and once in a Wound Care Center. I thought I should try a different hospital simply to get more exposure and to select a field completely different from what I had worked at before. This brought me to Good Sam Hospital (as it is colloquially known).
I shadowed Dr. Michael A. Jacobs at Good Sam. He met with his patients on Monday and Tuesday, and worked in the operating room Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. My previous experiences in hospitals dealt with both patient and non - patient care. However, given my limited experience at the time, I was not able to do as much as I would have hoped. At this stage in my academic career, I figured the best thing for me to do was learn. I wanted to learn how the daily life of a physician was and how they managed their very hectic schedules. I did not have any tasks per se, but I absorbed all the information that Dr. Jacobs gave me about knee replacements and minimally - invasive hip surgeries (his specialties). I learned orthopedic surgery is interestingly, very similar to carpentry. He told me virtually every field of medicine is analogous to another real world job (another example is plastic surgery is comparable to artistry). It was quite a shock honestly, watching him operate. He would literally take a hammer and strike nails into a device which would stabilize the knees and hips. When I visualized the operating room, I always thought of things being delicate and quiet. I learned how your knees struggle your whole life to avoid any bone on bone contact. A healthy gap of space and cartilage provides for optimal performance and avoids the dreaded bone on bone contact, which creates a painful crunching noise that can be heard while you walk. I also learned how remarkably stable the hips are. When Dr. Jacobs operates on someone’s hip, they are actually able to walk on a walker the very next day. The hips have an incredible sturdiness about them, which both Dr. Jacobs and patients greatly appreciate.
It was my first time in an operating room as well, which was really exciting. It was incredible to see the depths to which the operating room was maintained as a clean, sterile, and very controlled environment. It was somewhat comparable to our biology and chemistry labs, in which a clean and careful environment was created. The operating room greatly magnifies every health aspect, but my previous classes helped to ease the transition to understanding the great deal of effort that goes into maintaining the room.
This was by far the best experience I have had at a hospital. I learned so much in those two quick months. This has not at all changed my plans for the future. If anything, it has added more fuel to my burning desire to become a physician. At this point, I will try to expose myself to as many fields of medicine as I possibly can. Even though I am 100% sure I want to become a doctor, I am not sure which field appeals me the most. I know I have lots of time to decide, but I might as well spend that time exploring different avenues of medicine. I might visit an emergency room next or even shadow a different type of doctor. The possibilities are endless and I owe a great deal of thanks to Dr. Holtz and Dr. Merck for encouraging me to explore my dreams.
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