I've now been here for a week and have already seen and experienced so much! Two days I spent with my mom's friend, the pediatric orthopedic surgeon and today I just finished shadowing a bunch of neonatologists.
So far my schedule looks like this:
Monday & Tuesday - shadowing and observing various neonatologists and pediatrictions.
Wednesday & Thursday - shadowing and assisting the pediatric orthopedic surgeon.
Friday - studying/resting.
Also one Saturday I'll be shadowing a pediatric neurosurgeon, which I think might be very interesting too.
I have to admit, that orthopedics probably isn't something that I find fascinating enough to pursue as a specialty (though it is definitely interesting, its not something I think would be for me day in and day out), based on what I've seen so far. Also, speaking with the doctor, she told me in general there are very few women in orthopedics - even in pediatric orthopedics because its physically very hard and the surgeon has to be very strong. She said its especially true now that children and youth (since pediatrics treat up to the age of 18) are often overweight and its just hard to get to the broken bones. Not that this in itself would discourage me if I was truly passionate, but I'm more interest in illnesses I think as well as preventative care.
Neonatal however, is a different story. I love babies and thought it would be hard to see so many sick babies. But even though I did see some sick babies (which I will elaborate on in a minute) it didn't put me off at all and its amazing to see these little things, some born as early as 25 weeks (when the normal gestation period is 40 weeks) thrive. So far, I love it and think I would enjoy working with newborns - both healthy and ill. But obviously its too soon to make that kind of call (let's get into medical school first!).
Anyway, I was lucky to see a set of twins, born a few minutes before I saw them, at 29 weeks via an emergency C-section. They had something called "Twin-to-twin Trasfusion Syndrome" , which is a rare condition and has a high mortality rate. I watched as the doctors interested IV's into them via their belly buttons and start treating them. It's amazing that these little ones are alive, especially after doing a bit of research about the condition. Apparently, the mother (who has had a miscarriage and then had a child die of a heart defect at age 20 months) wasn't aware that her twins had this problem and had come in for a routine follow-up. The head of the Neonatal unit at the hospital that I'm shadowing at was very concerned, as this is usually a problem that is discovered much earlier in the pregnancy, during a time when some treatments can be applied - but at 29 weeks it was too late, so they had to deliver the babies.
I'm going back tomorrow morning and am curious to see how they are faring. They were both stable when I left and I pray that they are going to be ok. While at the hospital, I read many letters and cards from parents who had children born so early (one set of twin at 24 weeks!) with updates on how their children are doing 6, 7+ years later. I was very uplifting to see.
Unfortunately, as a result of my busy, busy schedule, my MCAT studying has been sadly lagging and I'm going to have to figure out how to balance everything. The first two days I was so jetlagged and then was thrown into the shadowing immediately and I've been returning totally exhausted. I didn't expect such an overwhelming response from all these doctors and now have too much planned! But I'll take it as this has been as an amazing experience and I'm lucky to be able to see it all.