First, Happy New Year to the three people that read this! I hope you each have numerous blessings and great stuff happening to you this year. You deserve it.
What's been happening? Surprisingly, not much. For the past week and a half, I've been shadowing a specialist physician. My dad is actually a patient of his, and the last time my dad was in town, I asked him to see if it was cool with this doc if I could come in and shadow him, he offered up a two week window between New Year's and when he is going on vacation, so I said yes.
I haven't shadowed before, and my main experience with clinical medicine had either been as a patient (rarely, as I am lucky enough to enjoy good health overall and I'm thankful for it... I think if you have good health you are rich in life, because if your health sucks you aren't going to be happy, but I digress), or as a family member, mainly with my mom during her eight year battle with cancer.
This was a different beast. As we entered the exam room for each patient, the doctor would greet the patient by their name (i.e. "Hello, Mr. Smith" not "Hi, John!"), and introduce me, "We have a student/young doctor-to-be with us today, this is ASK." Most of the patients have been with this doctor for a long time - some for thirty years. Over the past week and a half, all of the patients were very cooperative and seemed okay with having me in the exam rooms. It was odd the first time, after asking if she had any more questions and finishing up with a patient, and when we were leaving the exam room and wishing her well, telling her to stay warm, when she thanked me and said, "Nice to meet you, Dr. K."
The first time I corrected the patient and said, "I'm not Dr. K yet, but hopefully will be one day." Of course I liked hearing it, it had a nice ring to it. After that first day, I stopped correcting the patients if they ever said, "thank you, doctor" or "nice to meet you, doctor" to me. I realize that while I look the part, and while I want to be one, I am not a doctor yet, but in the grand scheme of things, while I was introduced as a student, not "medical student," it doesn't matter to the patient, and I did not feel like I was being disingenuous or misled any patient. I did not offer any medical advice, since I am unqualified to give it, but I was lucky enough to take part in certain non-invasive parts of their exams. A few times, I was encouraged to start taking a history, informally, just to get more used to speaking in a "doctorly" capacity with patients.
I have definitely learned a lot this past week and a half. I feel like now more than ever, after seeing the rapport of this doctor with his patients, most of whom have been under his care long-term, I am convinced that this is what I want to do and will be satisfying to me in so many different respects as a career.
But, man! How much would it have sucked if the first day I went in to shadow, after doing all of these prerequisite classes as a post-bacc pre-med, that I realized I hated clinical medicine? I'm glad I really like it. I like this specialty in particular too, but I am still keeping an open mind and looking for other opportunities to get clinical exposure in any capacity... not to make myself a stronger applicant all though it would definitely not hurt, but just to be around the patients more and see what the different practices are like on a day-to-day basis.
I will update more on shadowing later. :)