OTE Reflection - Kathy Hamlin, c/o 2013
As someone who is not particularly planning on going into surgery, I thought this elective was an excellent, low-pressure way for me to get more of a feel for what surgery is like, both from a provider's perspective and from a patient's perspective. It was my first time watching an entire surgery, start to finish, in the operating room. It was also my first time experiencing pre-op and post-op appointments and rounds. This elective provided a rewarding, low-pressure and enlightening introduction to surgery.
Interacting with the patients and watching how the doctors interacted with the patients was one of the most rewarding aspects of the elective. It was inspiring to see how much the patients appreciated all of their providers. This must have been an incredibly stressful time in their lives, but with the help of their nurses, physicians and surgeons they took it in stride. I was impressed by how warm the surgeon was with his patients and with how clearly he explained the procedures. The nurse practitioner was more brisk but also very skilled at interacting with patients. It was interesting to see how the different disciplines worked together so closely in the care of the transplant patients. The patients themselves were friendly and open to our being there. We didn't do much other than sit there and watch during their appointments, but still they greeted us with warmth when they saw us, and joked about us not bringing Junior Mints into the operating room.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the elective was the observation of the transplant selection committee meeting. The meeting was focused and directed, with an emphasis on achieving the most practical outcome possible. There was something very utilitarian about the proceedings. But choosing who does and who does not get a new chance at life by way of a transplant seems like the closest you can come as a doctor to playing God. My mom's cousin's son and daughter recently went through a kidney transplant as a donor-recipient pair at UCSF, and I couldn't help but think of them as I left the meeting.
This elective gave me a unique perspective on what goes on before, during and after transplant surgeries. I appreciated hearing from the patients and providers alike, and I would recommend the course regardless of a student's interest in a surgical career.