Jun 16, 2013
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At the beginning of winter break, I decided to shadow some doctors and eventually felt so miserable
because I called about fifteen doctors and all got rejected.
I couldn't even talk to an actual doctor, they were all nurses or receptionist.

So, when they took my number and said "we will call you back" I didn't expected.
But this one surgeon, pretty prominent, actually called me, scheduled the day I can shadow,
and left his number just in case I have any questions.

I think this is the best Christmas present I have ever had in my life (Sorry mom and dad!)
So, I really want to pull this out! I hope this experience is going to be huge impact on my career.

Please any, just any piece of advice will save me.
How should I act? What should I ask him? Help!
 

Missorleans

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Shadowing in clinic or the OR?
If in the OR, don't touch anything blue unless you have scrubbed. You may be able to go stand at the head of the patient with the anesthesiologist. Ask first.
 
Jun 21, 2012
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Look interested. Possibly ask questions (to some extent that depends on the tenor in the OR at the time). Have fun.
That's about all you can do even as a 3rd year med student.

If you do scrub in, they'll have to help you & they'll make sure you're sterile. After that, you keep your hands above your waist and fold your arms/hold them across your chest whenever you move around in the OR. You can actually get pretty close & watch many surgeries without being scrubbed in -- just keep all your limbs to yourself, keep your mask on, & keep your hair covered. Don't touch anything unless told to do so. Excuse yourself if you're going to get sick or pass out -- don't do it on the patient (sadly seen it happen w/ a poor embarrassed pre-med).

Some surgeries are seen better from anesthesia's view, but unless that's the case, I wouldn't gravitate there unless told to do so lest you seem to be shadowing the anesthesiologist after this surgeon has extended you this opportunity.
 

ksmi117

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Ask whatever questions you have about the process of becoming a surgeon, his training, why he chose medicine, advice he has about going into medicine, etc. More importantly, know the appropriate time to ask questions. In clinic, don't interrupt the physician in a patient room with questions about what he said. I always see the process of shadowing more as an experience in the life of a physician rather than a time to learn the science of medicine, but if you are curious about why the plan is what it is for specific patients or what certain things he said meant, ask him after you leave the patient's room.

If you are in the OR, whatever you do, don't contaminate the field. Anything blue is off-limits. And if you do feel light-headed or sick, find a spot to sit down or ask the circulating nurse (the nurse who is not scrubbed in) if you can sit at his/her spot or if he/she can help you find a stool since you are feeling ill. Nothing worse than someone fainting into the sterile field.
 

Pacna

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Try not to fall asleep. It's exciting at first, but you'll find that standing for 5 hours at a time watching someone else do something gets pretty boring. I suggest talking (quietly) with the hardware rep in the room. Their job is to be friendly and knowledgeable about the task at hand, and their only physical role is to retrieve the necessary items from the stock.
 

Winged Scapula

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Try not to fall asleep... I suggest talking (quietly) with the hardware rep in the room. Their job is to be friendly and knowledgeable about the task at hand, and their only physical role is to retrieve the necessary items from the stock.
LOL..."hardware reps" are far from common outside of Ortho; the OP didn't mention that it was an orthopod he was shadowing.

Good advice about not falling asleep - it is pretty boring watching someone else especially in darkened rooms.
 

histidine

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If you are shadowing the surgeon during clinic as well, make sure to dress up. Dress shirt/pants/belt/nice shoes.
 

487806

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Try not to fall asleep. It's exciting at first, but you'll find that standing for 5 hours at a time watching someone else do something gets pretty boring. I suggest talking (quietly) with the hardware rep in the room. Their job is to be friendly and knowledgeable about the task at hand, and their only physical role is to retrieve the necessary items from the stock.
LOL..."hardware reps" are far from common outside of Ortho; the OP didn't mention that it was an orthopod he was shadowing.

Good advice about not falling asleep - it is pretty boring watching someone else especially in darkened rooms.
Funny story about not falling asleep. I shadowed an oncologist a while ago and it was pretty repetitive after a while. I got tired and escaped to a corner to catch few winks. Woken up by a resident and became a butt of all jokes :(

Shadowing is fun to see what a physician does, but it gets boring after a while. It's just observing for few hours, so there really isn't anything else to do. Pretty sure i'll regret saying this come MS3
 
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Winged Scapula

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Funny story about not falling asleep. I shadowed an oncologist a while ago and it was pretty repetitive after a while. I got tired and escaped to a corner to catch few winks. Woken up by a resident and became a butt of all jokes :(

Shadowing is fun to see what a physician does, but it gets boring after a while. It's just observing for few hours, so there really isn't anything else to do. Pretty sure i'll regret saying this come MS3
I have fallen asleep on 2 occasions (that I'm aware of):

1) post-call as an intern, we were "rewarded" with getting to scrub in (this was in the days of no work hour restrictions; I did not feel rewarded when I'd been up for 30+ hours). They were doing a laparoscopic Nissen and I was in charge with holding the liver retractor. In a dark room. While sitting on a stool. Post call. I was reamed pretty badly for falling asleep, even thought the Chief resident admitted to me that I had not caused any problems for the case and the attending had been yelling at him as well throughout the case.

2) heinous call on Vascular surgery; q2, lots of vascular trauma. Was standing next to the attending, holding a retractor while he was checking Doppler signals for blood flow at the end of some multi-hour case and apparently I rested my head on his shoulder. He never lost the opportunity to tease me about that for the next several years.

I've seen students fall asleep often in and out of the OR. Typically I'll see them close their eyes during our cancer consultations which is about the only time it bothers me, as I worry the patient is going to be offended.
 

Gauss44

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Excuse yourself if you're going to get sick or pass out -- don't do it on the patient (sadly seen it happen w/ a poor embarrassed pre-med).
Some people have told me that they watch the surgery (on someone else) on youtube or online before before shadowing. That can help you to find out if you are likely to get sick. If you know what surgery you will be watching, it's a great way to prepare some good questions and follow along.
 
Jun 21, 2012
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Some people have told me that they watch the surgery (on someone else) on youtube or online before before shadowing. That can help you to find out if you are likely to get sick. If you know what surgery you will be watching, it's a great way to prepare some good questions and follow along.
Getting sick/passing out isn't nearly as common as falling asleep like others have mentioned, and isn't usually from being squeamish so much as the smells or standing for a long time, so I don't think the video would help that. It's a good idea to be able to follow along, but can't do that if you don't know what type of surgery ahead of time, and nobody will hold it against a pre-med for not recognizing anatomy in a live person.
 
Apr 3, 2013
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I've seen two amputations, and I've got to hold the limbs in both. *shadowing DPMs
I'll be shadowing a Trauma Surgeon soon.
 

Gauss44

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Getting sick/passing out isn't nearly as common as falling asleep like others have mentioned, and isn't usually from being squeamish so much as the smells or standing for a long time, so I don't think the video would help that. It's a good idea to be able to follow along, but can't do that if you don't know what type of surgery ahead of time, and nobody will hold it against a pre-med for not recognizing anatomy in a live person.
This might be slightly off topic, but since you mentioned recognizing anatomy in a live person, I wanted to mention that there's an interesting exhibit touring around: Body World - that shows real internal anatomy. Being a pre-med surgery thread, I figure that enough people might be interested in that.
 

CarlosDanger

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The most important thing in my mind is to ask questions. Try to look up some stuff about the surgeon before hand (if possible), and ask all the regular questions as well. Also, I'm sure it will be a really cool and interesting experience, but maybe temper your expectations a bit. Sometimes shadowing can be boring as others have said, and it may not have quite the huge impact on your career that you expect it too. If its a little boring, don't write off medicine for ever.