Alizeh Abbas – The Aga Khan University (Pakistan)
SURY 420 – Acting Internship in Cardiothoracic Surgery
What was your first impression when you got here?
I was rotating in Cardio-thoracic surgery, but mostly I was in thoracic Surgery. I remember the first day when I came here it was a huge hospital- big place, I didn’t know anything. But I realized, maybe it was about two hours after I was here, that everybody is super helpful. Everybody really makes you feel welcome and loved, and that was the reason that I became really comfortable and slowly confident in what I was doing.
Did anything stand out to you about your elective or your team?
My team was a group of people who were just full of energy who just made learning fun for me and that is why I think I learned a lot and I had a great time. During my first week, we were hearing a lot about the snow.. I was excited about it, but I was a bit worried “Would everything close down? Would that be a big deal?” So for the first time, I had to walk in snow to the hospital, and that was an interesting experience for me because I felt I was brave about it. I thought it was going to be an ordinary day other than the snow, but I come in and my chief asks “Do you want to come with us?” –they were going to this place, and I was like “Where are we going? What are we going to do?” and he said they were going for a lung procurement, and I was like “Wow that’s amazing” and I thought it was possibly a quick roadtrip or something, but he said “We’re going to South Carolina and we’re going on a plane, are you okay with that?” and I was like YEAH! Heck YES I AM! I was very excited about it. I think that was one of the other things that made me feel very welcome and respected because they truly integrated me into the team, and even though it was only my second day of the first week, they took me along. I got to scrub in the Surgery, I played some role in doing some of the things that we were doing, it was amazing. And then when we came back, those organs were transplanted into a patient and the next morning the patient looked WONDERFUL. It was such an amazing feeling because, that patient is lovely, the whole team loves him and he loves to interact with us, and the way we saw him do well after that was a very satisfying, very good feeling for me and that just made me really appreciate everything that was done through the elective office for making sure that I get this elective. That was one of the things.
A second thing, that I feel may be a bit more personal, is about a patient that I interacted with. I started following that patient from the day they came in, and they did have something a bit complex, and we knew that the patient would be in the ICU but I saw that the patient started doing well. One day we find out that he’s not so well, and that he had a code run on him, and when I found out about all of that it just made me think “Oh my God, my patient! I want him to do well.” And now he is! And everyday that I followed him I see him and how he has improved. So, the first day, I went to see him– this BIG SMILE he gave me, and the way he waved at me made me feel that he recognized me from everyday that I’ve seen him, and it just made me really happy. I went to my resident and told her “wow, he’s doing so well! Look at him!” and she was also really happy, the whole team was. But for me it was just, it made me feel like I possibly played a minute role in making him feel better, and helping him try on his own to breathe and to get better, and his morale has really gone up, so that was really good.
Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
All of the other medical students are so nice, especially the other girl in my rotation. She’s really great and she’s become a great friend.
I loved that our team hung out a lot for things like team lunches, team breakfasts, and they really promoted that. We’d sometimes talk about academics, sometimes we’d talk about other things, and sometimes our consultants would also join us and we’d have like a nice learning session. That was very good because that helped us to get to know each other outside of clinic and ORs, as well as, sometimes we’d look at scans, and discuss patients, so I just love the balance between having fun plus teaching and learning, which is really emphasized upon here. I feel that both my consultants really took the time to teach us about what’s happening with every patient before the procedure, and whether we had any questions. So, that was really great because that gave me confidence, and encouraged me to want to know more, want to read more, and then come back and discuss it with everybody else.