Shadowing a Neurosurgeon

HSF ended, I had 2.5 weeks off, and as of August 3 I have been back in school! This semester I’m taking 24 credit hours, not including clinic one morning per week. My main classes are Neuroscience and Pathology I; I’ll give an update later in the semester on my current classes. Suffice it to say, I am loving this semester so far. 😉 ALSO — White Coat Ceremony was this past weekend! After 2 years of practically year-round classes, I am officially part of the medical school — even though I’ve been taking medical classes interspersed since Year 1 and solely since January.

On my 2.5 week break I had the opportunity to shadow a neurosurgeon for 4 days. This was a great experience; I got to see some very intricate surgeries, was questioned over the relevant anatomy, and was reminded of my ultimate goal and why I must push through the long hours of studying — even when I would like to call it a day. I was interested in neurosurgery when I entered the 6 year program, and this interest was confirmed at the beginning of Year 2 when I shadowed a neurosurgeon for the first time. The neuroanatomy is so intriguing, and I enjoy the surgical aspect in that you have a defined problem, work to fix it, and soon after have a result (whether good or bad).

Handbook of Neurosurgery + various Neuroanatomy textbooks

Handbook of Neurosurgery + various Neuroanatomy textbooks

I used some of my break time to study and prepare for shadowing — I wanted to know as much as I could so I would 1) have a better idea of what was happening in the surgeries, and 2) be more likely to know the answer to any question that I may be asked. The content we learned in HSF (Human Structure Function I-IV) really prepared me the most, and was incredibly useful — I was able to follow along with most of the anatomy they discussed, and knew some answers to questions I was asked. Let me tell you, it is great motivation to study even harder when you’re asked a question to which you don’t remember the answer. 😉 My shadowing experience was also nice in the sense that it helped demonstrate how the information we are learning in class is clinically relevant.

Before and After my first day of shadowing

Before and after my first day of shadowing 🙂

I got to see several different surgeries, some in part and others in entirety. I learned that I am able to stand up for 9 hours straight and still remain enthralled with the surgery that I am observing. I got to see several surgeries on the brain (in my previous shadowing experience I had observed spinal and peripheral nerve surgeries). The following is a short list of my favorite surgeries that I got to observe, with links to YouTube videos with descriptions of the surgeries:

Overall, it was a wonderful experience. I was able to meet some neurosurgery residents, and to view how a neurosurgery program (which has residents) is run. After observing several additional surgeries, neurosurgery is definitely the field to which I am aspiring (as has been the case for over a year now). I am very glad I had the opportunity to shadow over break, as it renewed my energy and placed my end goal at the forefront of my mind as I am beginning classes for the fall semester.

Still smiling after a long day of shadowing

Still smiling after a long day of shadowing

Disclaimer: I do realize that interests can change throughout medical school, particularly once you start clinical rotations. 


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