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Observing Surgery!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Hey everyone! The school year is just about wrapping up, so these are my final posts (for this blog, I’m sure I’ll make posts elsewhere one day).

Even though school is getting a little hectic for me and I’m getting swamped with the planning for my fraternity’s Spring Formal (next post, hint hint), I had the chance to do something amazing last week: I got to observe orthopedic surgery. I was lucky enough to be able to observe two knee replacement operations in person, which was awe-inspiring (for a pre-medical student). Now I’m sure many of you rolling your eyes or going “Gross!”, but seeing a knee replacement surgery in high school (only via distance learning, not in person) was what sparked my interest in pursuing medicine as a career in the first place.

I was able to do this because of a Boulder connection. One of my fraternity brothers went to high school with a girl who now works at an orthopedic surgeon’s office in Denver. She and a co-worker both came up to hang out with my brother and I joined them. When they mentioned their employer, I immediately asked if he lets people observe. They enthusiastically said yes and invited me to come down as soon as I could to see anything and everything. Their surgeon apparently is retiring soon and loves teaching/inspiring potential medical students and also loves showing off his skills. So I did just that last week.

It was a very snowy day in Denver (and in Boulder), but luckily the busses were still running so I was able to get to the hospital, which was all the way in southeast Denver. I arrived and met up with the surgeon (Dr. Hess) and the co-worker of my brother’s friend (Ashley). He was very excited to have a fresh mind watching and playfully (or maybe seriously?) warned me about fainting in his Operating Room.

I scrubbed up (kind of) as you can see in the picture below and joined them in the OR. I found out that my scrubbing up was nothing compared to what Dr. Hess and his team had to do. They washed much more diligently than I needed to and also donned these space-suit looking costumes (similar to the ones shown below), complete with helmets and plastic visors with all exterior surfaces being totally sterile (unlike my hospital stock scrubs). I later found out that they also have peel-able plastic layers so that they can peel off a layer that’s been dirtied by blood and other things that fling around during a procedure. Fun stuff!

I’ll skip the detailed description of the actual procedures, because I could probably type two or three pages of that (which I’ll probably do for my medical school essays), but suffice it to say I left the OR as giddy as I was when I saw the televised procedure as a high school-er. I’ll hopefully be observing one or two more procedures of Dr. Hess’s before I graduate and before he retires, but I thoroughly enjoyed my experience in his OR.

Like I said before, look forward to a post about my upcoming Spring Formal weekend. If I can make it through my two papers and one midterm then it should be a very fun weekend.

Myself in scrubs.

What Dr. Hess and his crew looked like. Much cooler. 

Biochemistry, Atmospheric/Oceanic Studies (ATOC) minor • Austin, Texas

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