Tuesday, July 15, 2014
This summer I decided to take advantage of the MEDS 5010 opportunity at Schulich Medicine – a program that allows you to book up to 3 non-credit clinical electives with any physician in Canada. As a student who still isn't exactly sure what she wants to be when she grows up, the MEDS 5010 program appealed to me over other electives because it allowed me to explore multiple different areas of medicine.
I was lucky to find preceptors in the ICU (Dr. Lois Champion), otolaryngology (Dr. Brian Rotenberg), and nephrology (Dr. Faisal Rehman) who were willing to take on a summer student in addition to their already busy schedules.
The very first day of my electives was spent in the ICU. It was totally different than I expected. It was much quieter and more controlled than you think intensive care would be. There is also an impressive level of communication between staff – something that Dr. Champion seems to value as she takes the time to listen to everyone's input.
Over that first week I had the chance to learn some of the important clinical skills that you can't really teach in a classroom like how to read a chest x-ray, write a good progress note, or talk to a family about goals of care. By the end of the week, I was keeping track of two patients and almost felt like I knew what I was doing for the very first time.
And then I went into surgery. Going into the OR makes you feel like you've been suddenly turned into a puppy. You're so excited to be there, but you really can't do anything to help anyone because they all know exactly what they're doing and you don't even know where to put your hands.
Dr. Rotenberg is incredibly patient and took the time to explain each step of every detailed and complex procedure. You never dream that you'll be able to do anything but then someone tells you that you can scrub in and you think that this is the coolest thing that's ever happened – until you get tangled in a surgical glove.
I've learned two main things about scrubbing in: 1) You're not allowed to touch your glasses, 2) If you wrinkle your nose too much to move your glasses around someone will tape them to your forehead and you look like a huge nerd.
Finally, I made it to the nephrology clinic. As most of the patients in this particular clinic present for chronic follow-up, I was excited to bust out my freshly minted history-taking skills from our clinical methods course. I quickly learned that you don't have half an hour (or any time outs, for that matter) to get each patient's story and started to use an abbreviated kidney-specific line of questioning. I also learned that Dr. Rehman's patients absolutely think the world of him. I can't stress enough how many times a patient or a family member told me what a difference he made in their lives.
Right now I'm half way through each of my scheduled electives. While I'm not sure that I'm any closer to making a major career decision, I think I've learned a little bit so far about the type of physician I want to be – someone who listens, someone who is patient, and someone who can make a positive impact. I'd like to thank the physicians and staff members who have made my time on the floor, in the clinic, and in the OR so memorable this summer.
I would especially like to thank the three preceptors who have taken the time to supervise me directly on these electives. I couldn't have asked for a better set of clinical experiences and would highly recommend MEDS 5010 to anyone who has the opportunity.
-Khrystyna Ioanidis, Meds 2017