Shadowing a Surgeon…again

Hi friends! I haven’t posted at all during this semester, I’ve been more active on my Instagram page, but I wanted to write a bit about my experience shadowing another surgeon last week. Quick “get to know me”: I’m a pre-med student at Albion College, major: exercise science, future plans: pediatric surgeon!

I shadowed quite a few health care providers in high school from doctors to PAs to nurses. I wrote about all of them as well…go check it out!

So this surgeon is a friend of my mom’s from her camp counselor days. I shadowed him one other time about a year and a half ago. Now that I’m in college, I decided to shadow him again so that I could actually observe in the OR as well as office hours. I got to the hospital at 6am, and we immediately started the day.

I got to wear scrubs! They are hospital issued scrubs, and I couldn’t find the right size so they weren’t the most comfortable things to wear all day, but it was worth it.

We started by rounding on his post-op patients and seeing some new consults. One of the chief general surgery residents rounded with us! She was so smart and gave her opinion/asking him questions. He wanted to know her opinion on lots of things. There were several times where he took her advice and changed his plan. It was interesting to see that dynamic and to know that one day I’ll have all of that knowledge and be able to make those decisions!

*One thing that stood out to me was the male-female ratio. I didn’t see any female surgeons. There were female surgery residents, and female surgeons in other specialties (Ob/Gyn), but not general. I don’t really know what I was expecting, but I was still surprised.*

Then, he started surgery. I got to see two operations. He was the head surgeon and the same resident was his first assist. He talked to me during the operations, showed me the anatomy, and made sure that I understood what he was doing. The scrub nurse talked to me too. Of course, she was trying to convince me why nursing is the better option…which I’m used to. More on that later in the post:)

Then we did office hours. I was able to see a lot of variety. I saw two in office procedures, several post-op patients, and several new patients. It was a long day, 19 office patients in total. I was exhausted at the end, but I absolutely loved it. I loved the comraderie and collaboration among the surgical attendings and residents. It was an amazing atmosphere that I can see myself thriving in.

After talking to the scrub nurse, though, I really took the time to think why I want to be a doctor instead of a nurse. Something that the surgeon told me at the end of the day really helped me put my feelings into words. He said, “There isn’t a day that goes by that I feel insignificant. When I sit here and think about what I did just today, that’s incredible. I can walk around here (the hospital) and have all of this knowledge and know that I make a real difference in someone’s life.”

That being said, I know that nurses are incredible health care providers, and they have the most direct patient care in relation to doctors. I know that they are very smart, and make real differences in patients’ lives. However, my view of my future life lines up more with being a doctor. I want to be the person that sees a patient and is able to diagnose and then treat that person. I want to be able to collaborate with other providers and advocate for what I think my patient needs. I think that surgery, whether that’s pediatric, general, Ob/Gyn, neuro, etc. is really for me. I would get that mix of OR time where I have to think on my feet and put all of my knowledge to work and office visits where I get to put patients at ease and create a personal connection with them.

A huge consideration that I need to think about though is work-life balance. I want to be a surgeon. I want to be married and have kids. I think I can have it all. Sure, there will be sacrifices and long hours away from a family, but it can be done.

I’ve spent some time thinking about advice I would have for people looking to shadow, a surgeon specifically.


  • Get a good night of sleep the night before
  • Know where you are going before you get there or give yourself plenty of time to figure it out
  • Are you going to be able to change into scrubs? Then wear comfy clothes there so that you can be comfortable at the end of a long day. Or no scrubs? Then wear the appropriate business type clothes. Ask the person you are following to be sure!
  • ASK QUESTIONS. And then ask a few more. Typically, if a doctor or nurse is letting you shadow them, they are going to be more than willing to answer any question that you have. That being said, know when to ask the question. Unless your doctor specifically asks if you have a question during a direct patient encounter, I would say keep your mouth shut. But when it’s just the two of you, go ahead and speak up. You will have a much better experience if you do this…not to mention you’ll make a better impression on the person that you’re following. At the end of my day, my surgeon told me that he would be happy to write any letter that I need, and I’m welcome back anytime. Interact with your doctor! It will be more fun; I promise.
  • In the OR, don’t be too sensitive. If they tell you to move here, do this, or stop doing that, just listen to them. They aren’t mad at you, but they do have a person’s life in their hands, and they are responsible for you. Just listen to them and move on.
  • In the OR, if you start to feel sick or worried about anything, please step back from the table or go sit down. It is better to miss something than to pass out onto the sterile field. I promise you that the doctors and nurses aren’t going to think any less of you. They know it is one of your first times in the OR and seeing a surgery. They remember how they felt in your position. Also, don’t get discouraged if you get sick or something. I know from other experiences that I get nauseous fairly easily just watching something (which didn’t happen this time!!). But when I am hands on and doing it myself, everything else just disappears and I’m completely focused. I talked to my surgeon about this later after surgery, and he said the same thing. The 2nd surgery he had that morning was a 3 and a half hour surgery. He told me that he wasn’t tired, hungry, or sore during surgery. As soon as he was done, his back started to hurt, he was starving, and really needed to go to the bathroom.
  • Remember that basically everything you see is confidential. One doctor I shadowed told me that anything about the doctors or nurses was open for discussion. Anything with a patient though is off limits.
  • Have so much fun! It’s an honor to shadow doctors/nurses/etc. Treat it as such!

Now. I didn’t go home after I was done at the hospital. I had planned on it, but lo and behold a snow storm hit and hit hard! I drove for about 20 minutes before I had to stop. I called my mom, and she said that the roads at our house (about 2 hours away) were even worse than where I was. So I stopped at a hotel, but they told me I had to be 21 to get a room. I went to get dinner, and my mom called around to other hotels to see if there was a place that I could check in as an 18 year old. She finally found one, thank goodness. So she reserved the room for me. BUT then my phone died! So I was stuck in a hotel in Columbus, no phone, no charger *note to self: always take a charger with you everywhere*.

It was fine though. I took a shower and crashed at about 9:00. The next morning, I went out to my car and tried to turn on my GPS…but it wouldn’t turn on for more than 30 seconds at a time. My phone wasn’t charging enough for me to use it either. So, I got myself home with no GPS and no phone. Now, coming from a very directionally challenged person, I was very proud of myself!

One more note: my waitress at the restaurant that night and the manager of the hotel the next morning really made my trip better. At the end of the day, I was exhausted. Then this whole thing happened, and I just wanted to go home. I was on the verge of tears probably from being tired and hungry and a little scared. But the waitress was so nice to me. I ordered a mocha, and then she offered to bring me another free one. She did a lot to make sure that I was okay, and she was so sweet. Then, the manager the next morning, as I was checking out, acted like a grandmother, and made sure that I was okay and told me to be careful on the way home. This is just a reminder to remember to be kind to everyone you meet. Those two women probably have no idea that they helped me that much. We probably don’t realize the impact we have on people either.

So there you have my first solo adventure. It was a success:) If you made it this far, thanks for reading!! Have an amazing day and a Merry Christmas. If you have any questions, email me or DM on Instagram!! I’d love to hear from you.


Shadowing a Physical Therapist (and assistant)

Today, I woke up early (5:55am. Guys, this time change is so ridiculous! I am still not used to it.) and scheduled my classes for next semester! All of them show me as enrolled so I made it before they filled up.

After that, I drove with mom over to her school. Then I drove myself to my shadowing appointment at the hospital near the school. Today I shadowed a physical therapist who is a dad of two of our school’s students. I met him their at 8:30 and we started his busy day:)

He is the head of inpatient PT so I was briefly able to see an ICU patient. We ended up not staying long though, doctor’s orders:) Then we saw several patients in their TCU–Transitional Care unit– and he did lots of paperwork, as I had expected. Then around 11:00, he was finished with patients for the day so I switched over to an outpatient PTA–physical therapy assistant. He was fun to shadow as well, and he answered all of my questions.

Both of them were easy to talk to, and it was probably the most relaxed shadowing I have had. The whole staff joked with each other and included me, and if you know me, I like to laugh a lot, so they made me feel very at home.

I did learn, though, that I do not want to go into physical therapy. When we went up to the ICU patient, the whole ‘Care Team’ was outside the room, and I was so impressed. They all worked so well together even though it was a highly stressful patient. I didn’t want to leave! I would have rather stayed and watched the doctors work.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I would rather have the medicine part of it. Now, PTs impress me with how much they know, but it is just not the type of work that I want to do. I am glad that I shadowed this PT and PTA so that I could find this out.

Now I have to try to sort through my feelings on ‘MD versus PA’ and the wheels are constantly turning on that one:)

Have a good weekend.

Review of Specialties

So I don’t want to say ‘Yes’ to any particular specialty so if I am considering it I am going to say ‘Maybe’. 🙂

Shadowing an ER PA- I do not like the unpredictability of the ER. I realize that any specialty will give you the ‘unknown’, but the ER would make me very anxious. (Verdict=NO)

Shadowing a Surgeon- I need more of a doctor/patient relationship than surgery gives. I would find it hard to meet someone, develop a relationship, operate not knowing if they will live or not, and then send them back to their normal doctor. (Verdict=NO)

Shadowing a Podiatrist- I simply could not work with feet day after day. (Verdict=NO)

Shadowing an RRT- This one is trickier. I really did like this field. I would have to shadow an RRT in a larger hospital to really understand what they do. (Verdict=MAYBE, probably not)

Shadowing a Radiologist- I need more patient interaction, and I could not read X-Rays from a computer all day. (Verdict=NO)

Shadowing an OB nurse- I did love this. I can picture myself as a nurse or as an MD in OB/Gyn. I think that shows me that I would thrive in this specialty. (Verdict= MAYBE, most likely so far)

Shadowing an OB nurse

Hello everyone! I had another opportunity to shadow a parent from school. This time I shadowed an OB nurse in the hospital. I fell in love! (Do I say that every time I shadow someone?!)

To read about all of my other shadowing experiences, go here.

I shadowed her from 1-5 yesterday afternoon. She gave me a pair of scrubs to wear, and may I just say that those things are the most comfortable clothes ever made!? Her boss had her assigned to the nursery. We walked in and there were babies! Now, you might say, of course there were babies! But I had never seen so many babies (born that day!). They were all in their own rolling cribs, and they were all wrapped tightly like burritos. The nurses in there let me hold the ones that were crying and feed the ones that were hungry.

I saw two different procedures on the babies. Towards the end of the day, the babies were either discharged or sleeping with their mamas. ‘My’ nurse took the opportunity to give me a tour of the OB floor. She showed me the delivery rooms, supply room, exam room, OR, and C-Section recovery room.

She seemed to love her job so much. Now, again, I know that I say this about every field I shadow, but the OB specialty has seemed to be my favorite. I can honestly see myself being either an OB nurse or OB/Gyn MD.

All in all, I had a great day. It helped me to see that this is still my favorite field. Tomorrow, I will post a review of my thoughts on every field that I have shadowed. It’ll be interesting for me to compile all of my thoughts.



Shadowing a Radiologist

I had a wonderful day with the Radiologist I shadowed yesterday. For the morning, I sat with him in his reading room. I don’t know what to call it…it is the room with all of the monitors that he reads X-rays, CT scans, etc. on.

All ready and trying to look professional:)

All ready and trying to look professional:)

He was a wonderful teacher. He pointed out everything that he saw. He made sure that I knew what he was looking for. I felt very comfortable asking questions related to and not related to the direct complaint of the patient.

Then I ate lunch with the technicians. I just have to say that I have loved every single tech or therapist that I have observed. I love that they are a team whereas a doctor isn’t with a group of doctors all day, at least in our small hospital.

After lunch, I spent the day going with whatever tech was doing something interesting. A list of the techs that were on duty: ultrasound, mammogram (although I did not observe that), CT, MRI, X-Ray.

I fell in love with the ultrasound! Actually, I fell in love with the pregnancy ultrasound:) I don’t find all the other ultrasounds very interesting. While I was in MRI, she showed me some pictures of an MRI she had done on Monday or Tuesday of a lady very close to delivery. I could see the spine and the eyes and the head and the feet and fingers and everything on the baby!! Maybe that shows that I should be an Obstetrician 😀

Now for the summary of my thoughts on radiology.

I don’t want to be a radiologist! I need more hands on. I didn’t see any procedures, such as biopsies, because the nurse was sick yesterday. I still don’t think that I could read X-rays for the majority of the day in a dark room!

The more I think about it, the more I realize that it really showed me that I need to find an Ob to shadow. I had a fun day, but I know what I need to do next: find someone in the Ob/Gyn field to shadow, whether that be a nurse or a doctor or a PA.

So there is my day shadowing a Radiologist.

Today, we went out to our friend’s house to swim. I burned on my shoulders! Ugh and ouch. But that was fun as well. After we were done swimming, we drove around with them on their golf cart just talking, and talking, and talking. Beautiful day:)

Shadowing a Respiratory Therapist

Hey guys!

On Thursday, I had a nice little surprise. My chem teacher called me and said, ‘Hey, you want to shadow me today from 2:30-11?’ (If you didn’t know, my chem teacher is an amazing respiratory therapist-RRT)

Of course, I started doing a little happy dance right then and there in my mom’s classroom. So we drove home so I could change into ‘shadowing clothes’. I went to HR and signed the paperwork, and then we met Jennifer on the other side of the hospital.

We walked into the hospital and went to the Pulmonary Medicine department first. I met her boss and a few of her co-workers. Then she listened to report, and we were off checking up on patients.

We did routine treatments and some different things too:) (HA. I say ‘we’. HA.) She is my favorite person that I have shadowed. I mean for obvious reasons, if you knew her, but also because she talked to me when working with her patients. The other people, probably because they didn’t know me, just worked with the patients and then talked to me when we walked out. That makes sense, but I really liked how she taught me things.

My favorite field that I have shadowed would be RRT. At least at this hospital, I know the bigger ones are different, RTTs go to all the floors. We were in ER and ICU and just the medicine floor. Other doctors that I have shadowed were specialty doctors so they stayed in their wing only. Another aspect that I loved about this was that all the RRTs helped each other out. They traveled together, I guess you could say. If someone was finished with ‘their’ floor, they would call the others and see if they needed help. If someone did need help, someone would come and give a treatment or do whatever needed to be done.

Another great thing about this field is the schooling. RRTs only need to go to school for 18 months to get certified. At least at the college where I would go. It is the same college that I will be attending next year. So if…IF…I decide on RTT, I could go for 18 months and then start working. At that point, the hospital would pay for my under grad.

Of course, I really do want to have the college experience. SO I probably would still go to college for four years and then get trained. But even then, that I so much better than 10 years of school and beau coups of debt.

Don’t get me wrong. I am still considering becoming a doctor–an Ob/Gyn, but I am just saying that so far, this has been my favorite shadowing experience so far. This is definitely one of my choice careers.

As a side note…I did get a picture of those Mother’s Day flowers. As soon as I can get the picture over to WiFi, I will post it:) We got some fun ones!

And I just realized that the Yoga challenge starts on June 1 not like five days ago. Anyone doing it with me?

Wonderful Wednesday #4

I haven’t done one of these in awhile! So I guess I will just recap what has been happening recently. I also want to start adding recipes on here. THEREFORE, I will start that ‘hope’ right now! I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but it is apart of my new food plan and it looks pretty amazing:)

Let’s just start with some of my favorite posts recently:

Shadowing a Podiatrist
Shadowing a Surgeon
Whole 05

And here are some of my favorite posts from other blogs:

Tom’s of Maine (A-Doctor-in-the-House)
Strawberry gluten free cupcake (Treble in the Kitchen)
Did you know you can print on index cards? (Musings from a Curvy Romance Writer)

Here is the recipe that I am dying to try! Click here to get it at Bless This Mess blog.

See you soon!!



Shadowing a Podiatrist

Today I was able to shadow a podiatrist! I got there around 12:45 and we were finished by 4:30. He is a private practitioner, which he made clear is really hard to start into nowadays, so he has really nice hours. He takes Wednesday and Friday afternoons off and comes in only in the afternoons the other days. His ‘office ladies’ were really sweet. I am kind of confused on their training…I don’t think they were nurses.

Anyhow…I really enjoyed today. I saw people getting their toe nails trimmed, routine check-ups for broken feet, slipper casting, and other feet problems:) The other feet problems were  people who had pain in their heel who were in for a check-up to get x-rays. He looked at the films right away so I got to see my first films!

A few people had corns that he had to scrape away. It was kind of…gross. He had to scrape away a lot of the skin, and it looked painful!

The office feel really appeals to me. My first two shadowings were in the hospital, and it was nice to shadow a physician in the office. It was laid back and relaxed, mainly because they didn’t have very many patients. I mean, we saw patients with about a 10 minute period in between, but he wasn’t frantically rushing around seeing people.

This was a nice experience because since we had some down time, he talked to me a lot about podiatry school and med school and different scopes of practice. He kind of outlined differences in hospital practice and private practice and clinical practice and group practice, etc. I learned a lot about the business side of things too:)

So what did I learn today? I learned that I really love the idea of working in an office and a hospital. One of the ladies gave me a name of an Ob/Gyn to call about shadowing because I had said that the ones that I have already called said they wouldn’t allow high school students to shadow…which makes sense. But I really want to shadow an Ob/Gyn.

I have several shadowings that I am going to line up soon: an Ob/Gyn, an RRT (my chem teacher!), and an ER nurse (my mom’s friend!).

Pretty fun times:p

Shadowing a Surgeon

Click the link to read about my first ever shadowing time- an ER PA.

Well, onto my time shadowing a surgeon. Wonderful story about that…

So I got there around 7:15 in the morning. Finally, a nurse came out at 7:30, and I followed her back to the doctor’s desk area- I don’t really know what you call it…it was back in the part of the wing with the ORs, but he didn’t do his notes there. How’s that for helpful??

I watched him do two very basic surgeries. Amazing!! Then I was able to watch a surgery where he actually had to scrub in. I got to wear scrubs and a hair net from the very beginning! The anesthesiologist told me to stand by him, and he showed me his machines and notes and different things like that. I couldn’t see down inside the incision, but I could see enough:) The anesthesiologist (I don’t know if I can use their names) showed me the anatomy on his tablet of what the doctors were doing. He showed me where the organ was and what veins and arteries that they had to deal with. He pointed out different organs that they needed to push out of the way to get to the organ on which they were operating. That was probably the highlight of my visit. He was very informative and friendly to me.

We stood there for about 15-20 minutes. We hadn’t said anything for awhile. All of a sudden, they started to suture again, and then it hit me. The smell and the closeness of the mask and goggles and the stationary position just all hit me at once. I felt myself go nauseous. I asked the anesthesiologist if I could sit down in his chair. He kind of laughed and said, “Yes, I’ve been watching you. You’re going a little white.” The circ nurse came over and asked if I was OK. I, of course, said yes. But then the doctor assisting ‘my’ surgeon said, “*Circ nurses’s name*, she needs out.” So the nurse picked me up and helped me out of the room. I really didn’t know what was happening. It all was going so fast. My vision started to go black and fuzzy. I remember her sitting me down in the chair at the desk, tilting my head back, and then I said, ‘I’m blacking out.’ *Like they  didn’t know:p* Then I passed out.

I kind of remember them wheeling me in the chair and then being picked up my hands and feet and laid down in a bed. I woke up to people staring down at me. You know how in medical shows, when a patient passes out, they wake up and the camera’s focus is fuzzy and then slowly focuses? Well if you ever wondered if it is real, then your answer is yes. It really happened like that. I always wondered if that actually happened when you woke up after that. It did to me!

One of then asked me my name. They had put a blood pressure cuff on me. They asked me if I felt better. I did, but I was so tired! They told me that my face looked better. Apparently my face had gone ghost white and my lips were still white for about five minutes after I woke up. They made me drink orange juice, and then called my grandma. It was only 10:30 so I was kind of disappointed that I had to go home. When we got back to my grandma’s house, I slept for about three hours. So tired!

The good thing is that I now know that I probably do not want to be a surgeon and that I can take the sight of blood. It wasn’t the sight that made me pass out, it was the smell and claustrophobia. I don’t think that I would want to be a surgeon though because I don’t feel I could handle that job and raise a family, which is one of my life dreams.

[Update: I just went back to read the above paragraph, and I can’t believe that I wrote that! Of course I can become a surgeon and still have a family! Surgery is actually one of my number one picks for a specialty right now–actually neonatal surgery, but I would have to do a general surgery residency first. So anyway, disregard the paragraph above this one because it is no longer how I view surgery!]

We will see though where God takes me through all of this.

But overall, it was a successful trip. I hope to go back and finish the day sometime:)

Have you ever had an experience like that–you loved it but something happened to interrupt it?