Shadowing: Urgent Care, Oncology, Orthopedics

My school offers random shadowing experiences so that we can get a glimpse of the many different specialties. If you are like me, and have no idea what you want to do, this is an amazing opportunity. This semester, I shadowed in the urgent care, an oncologist, and an orthopedic surgeon. Ironically, before these shadowing experiences, I actually thought I could rule out 2 of these specialties completely!

I’d love to hear any input about these specialties, since one shadowing isn’t enough time to determine if that speciality is the one for me! So without further ado, I will share little snippets about my experiences!

Urgent Care

The physician I followed was actually trained in emergency medicine but was working a shift in the urgent care. When I hear urgent care, I think of those minute clinics in CVS or other drug stores. I had no idea there could be a free standing urgent care that almost resembled a mini-hospital with procedural rooms, registration, and a nurses station. There were actually about 18 beds in this urgent care!

I was able to see three patients. One was a college-aged woman, a middle-aged woman, and an older man. All three came in for completely different reasons so it was interesting to see the wide scope that these physicians get to work with.

There was an eye infection on one patient, where I was able to look at the eye through a slit-lamp. It was actually so cool! The doctor gave the patient this eye drop with a dye in it that would adhere to bacteria. So under the slit-lamp fluorescent light, you could clearly see the location of the infection!

What I loved was the number of different illnesses you could see in a day. What I didn’t love was the pace, it seemed a little slow to me – but maybe it was just a slow Tuesday!

Oncology

Before this experience, this was one of the specialties I already thought that I had no interest in. I felt that the sadness would be too much for me and after connecting with the patient and watching them fight, seeing them lose to cancer would just tear me apart.

Similarly to urgent care, I saw three different patients. Two were older and one was in mid-thirties. The first patient didn’t have too bad of a situation and was actually tolerating the treatment for her cancer very well. The second patient had a little worse of a scenario, but still had a positive outlook and was tolerating the treatment very well.

It was the third patient that confirmed that oncology is way too sad for me. This young woman had cancer so advanced that it was unlikely that chemo would help her. It was so difficult to see something that this woman had no physical control over have such an effect on her life. One thing that I did admire was her courage and passion to fight. She is fighting for her daughters and I wish I could follow her on her journey and cheer her on.

What I loved was seeing the passion and hope in that young woman to beat cancer. What I didn’t love was the reality of cancer and the sadness that comes with it.

Orthopedics

I hate knee and ankle injuries. ACL’s, broken ankles, and any other traumatic injury the body can receive in sports just freaks me out. That is why I thought I would never ever go into orthopedics. I was happily proven wrong!

What I didn’t realize about orthopedic surgery is that while you are in surgery for a lot of the time, you also have patient interactions with follow ups and consults. During my experience, there was no time in the O.R. All the time was spent with follow ups. I loved seeing the doctor explain his plan for surgery to the patient and how he used really innovated tools in these surgeries.

I have to say I was also impressed with the amount of anatomy you need to know for this specialty. The doctor was able to explain more scientific terms to me while showing me the X-ray and also explain things in laymen’s terms to the patient – which I think is a little more difficult to do with anatomy!

Most of the patients I saw were elderly that needed hip or knee replacements. But they all had the absolute most positive attitudes!

What I loved was seeing the tools replace human bones in surgery. What I didn’t love was the patient population I saw.

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So there ya have it! Let me know if you have similar or even completely different experiences with these specialties! Or if you have a speciality you just love and want to share!

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