Physician Shadowing

Physician Shadowing

Hi everyone!

Sorry for the late post; I’ve been busy shadowing and taking care of my sick husband and kitten. 😦

Anyway, let me tell you about my shadowing! I shadowed a Pediatrician on Monday and Tuesday for a total of 8 hours. I will be going back on Monday for another four hours and I’m very excited!

Monday was pretty slow and “not very exciting” according to Dr. O (which is what we’ll call him). They were mostly wellness checks, and the kids weren’t very loud. Even the babies he saw were pretty mellow. The first patients were a set of twins that were two weeks old. One of the twins had pyloric stenosis (a narrowing of the pylorus, which is the opening from the stomach into the small intestine), so he had surgery to correct it. The mum had told me that it was scary before they found out what he had because he was spitting up all his milk and he dropped about 5 pounds in about a day. It had been a few days since the surgery, so the baby was eating well and he had gained weight.

Another thing we saw a lot of were “crooked heads” like Dr. O called them. A baby would favor laying their head on one side vs. the other, so the part that is always touching the surface gets flat and their forehead pokes out a little bit. It can usually correct itself by stretching the baby’s neck and/or propping them up with a cloth so they lay their head on the side they don’t favor. They keep an eye on it and if they get older and the problem doesn’t correct itself, the baby needs to get a helmet.

I asked him two questions while I was there on Monday.

– Do you see parents that don’t want to vaccinate their kids? And if so, how do you handle it?
“Most parents want to vaccinate their kids. Sometimes they get worried that giving them three shots at a time is too much, so they space them out. I don’t mind slowing them down as long as they get their vaccines by the time they’re two. The kids don’t like it as much because they have to come in three different times to get their shots rather than all at once, but it gives the parents peace of mind.”

– Why did you choose pediatrics?
“The rotation was great; you tend to like the rotations where you’re treated like a person. The doctors were very nice and they were willing to help, unlike the surgery rotations where they treated you like you’re an idiot. You’ll find out very early on if you want to work with kids or not, and I decided early on that I liked working with kids. Children also don’t cause their own problems; I remember going to a clinic once and seeing people in a wheelchair, with their oxygen tank next to them, and they were smoking. Kids don’t do things like that, so that’s also why I chose pediatrics.”

Tuesday was a lot more exciting. It was very busy; almost no time to check the score/goals of the World Cup (Dr. O is a huge soccer football fan.) They were mostly wellness checks, but he also got to perform a circumcision and check out a psychiatric patient. The circumcision surprised me, because I didn’t know you could do it at a clinic. It was very interesting to watch, and the baby didn’t seem to mind it. He only got mad when his pacifier fell out, but he stopped crying immediately after the MA put it back on his mouth (the cherry syrup they gave him to keep him calm also helped). Dr. O explained the whole procedure as he was performing it, for my sake as well as the baby’s father who decided to watch it with us. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my notepad with me, so I didn’t take notes.

We also saw a two-week old baby that had a curly toe; this means the toe was curling underneath the toe next to it. Since it was one of the outside toes, Dr. O told the parents that he wasn’t very concerned; they usually fix themselves. However, if it doesn’t, she will probably need surgery when she’s five years old. He also said he usually notices them when T-ball try-outs start and kids try to run in a straight line and they end up falling over.

We also saw another baby for a wellness check, I think she was about a year old, and he showed me a hemangioma (birthmark composed of blood vessels) she had in her back. Dr. O said they usually disappear on their own and that they’re not something he worries about unless they’re in a sensitive area, like the eyes or inside of the nose.

He also had a patient that broke her wrist, but he put the cast all the way up to her elbow to stop her from twisting her arm too much. He had told her that if she did well with it and took care of it, he would cut it down below her elbow. So I watched him cut down the cast; I found it really cool that the saw didn’t cut skin; he touched it to show the girl so she wouldn’t be scared. He said the trick is to not let it get too hot; you go in and out rather than just cut straight through, otherwise the saw gets hot and the patient becomes uncomfortable. The patient was very happy that her elbow was finally free. 🙂

Another thing we saw was a little girl with nurse maid’s elbow, which is a dislocation of the radius. She had been playing with her brothers and they had been swinging her around before throwing her on the couch. Dr. O simply popped it back into place and gave the little girl a few minutes to see if she would use her arm again. After we went back in, she was happily looking through books and using her previously injured arm to hold up a lollipop Dr. O had given her before leaving. He said it was one of his favorite things to see, because he could fix it almost immediately.

I only had one question for him this time.

– Why is it called a nurse maid’s elbow?
“It had something to do with what the nurse maid’s would do, but I can’t remember what it was.”
I told him I would Google it and let him know the next time I saw him, so here’s the answer according to the first page Google came up with: “It was named for nursemaids who would care for children and they would often yank their arm if they tried to run into the street or run away.”

So there you go! I’m looking forward to keep shadowing him; I like working with kids. I don’t really mind the screaming either; I think I could do this full-time. 🙂

Oh, if you guys have any questions you’d like me to ask Dr. O, let me know!

Wish me luck!



Cool News!

Hi everyone!

I’M SO EXCITED! I’ll be starting another few months, hopefully, of Physician Shadowing on Monday! I’ll be following around a Pediatrician, who happened to be mine when I was still a kid. I’m really excited ad I can’t wait to tell you all how it went! If you have any suggestions for questions I should ask, let me know. 🙂

Wish me luck!



Look at How Far You’ve Come

Hi everyone!

I’ve been watching the World Cup (What’s wrong with Spain?!) when a random though hit me. The last time I watched the World Cup, I didn’t even think about becoming a doctor. The last time I watched the World Cup, I was 19 years old, recently married, and thinking that school was a bore. It’s amazing how things can change in just four years, so I wanted to take some time today to reflect on it.

Four years ago, I was thinking that I would probably go into Psychology, I had already declared it, and I was thinking about a minor in English. I wanted to do something with Abnormal Psychology, but I also wanted to go into Cognitive Psychology; I already loved how the brain worked, even back then. I remember writing a paper on the amygdala, which is a part of your brain that deals with emotion and motivation. I found it really interesting and I wanted to learn about it, maybe find a way to conduct some research on it in the future. I hadn’t thought about being a doctor, yet here I am.

It was later that year that I started thinking about it, but it wasn’t until a year later that I held the brain that changed my mind. I’d like to think I’ve grown as a person; I’m more dedicated, a better student, a better wife, better pet owner, and I feel like I owe it all to making this decision. Caring for others is probably the best thing someone can do, and I don’t think I would’ve figured that out if I hadn’t started volunteering.

Four years ago, before I thought about medicine as a career, I started volunteering at an animal shelter. I’ve been volunteering for them for almost four years, and I love it. I take care of cats at a Petco about half an hour from where I live while they wait to be adopted. I’ll talk about it more in future posts, but you can learn about people from helping animals. Even if you volunteer somewhere that isn’t related to medicine, remember that all that matters is what you learn from it!

Two years ago, I started volunteering at a hospice. I’ve learned so much from the people I have accompanied in their last months. My first “patient” is still alive, the next two I’ve had have passed on. I can’t thank them enough for what they’ve taught me, and I will always remember them and keep them in my heart. I currently have a patient with severe dementia; she’s lovely, but she doesn’t talk much. I will also talk more about my hospice experience in another post.

Last year, my GPA (not overall, unfortunately) was almost perfect. I got 3.98 both semesters, and I felt like I could finally deserve to get into medical school. I also started volunteering at Big Brothers Big Sisters in October. I hadn’t realized how much I enjoyed hanging out with kids and helping with their homework. My little was a very smart little girl and I hope that I have inspired her to go to college when she grows up. 🙂 I also shadowed a Physician for four-five months; it was an amazing opportunity and I’m very thankful for it! He is a Family Practitioner and has taught me just what it takes to be a good doctor. I want to be just as kind as he is; every single one of his patients loved him! No one ever complained about him; it was amazing! I’ll talk more about that in another post as well. 🙂

As far as this year goes, last semester I was an online Physiology lab instructor. It was a great experience, and I’ve learned a lot about college students. It was also great for reviewing all the Physiology stuff I learned during Fall semester. I may interview to be an Anatomy lab instructor after I take an Anatomy class if I do well. We’re lucky enough to have cadavers in our Anatomy lab, so I’m a little nervous but excited. It will definitely be a great experience to be in the class, but if I become an instructor I will have to do the actual dissections. I’ll let you know how that goes when I take the class and whether or not I will try to become a lab instructor. 🙂

I’m currently out for the summer. All I’m doing for volunteering is the animal shelter and hospice so far. BBBS is out for the summer, so I don’t get to do that until August. I’m thinking about volunteering at a hospital nearby, I just need to fill out the application and turn it in! I’m also thinking about starting a CNA program; I want/need to get a job and I think it would be good for me to find one in a healthcare setting. I initially thought about EMT, but it’s more expensive and it doesn’t start until August. I need to do something to keep myself entertained this summer, and I also don’t want to be going to regular classes in the normal and doing an EMT program at night. Hopefully I will be working by the time school starts, I just hope it won’t be too demanding since I’m going to need plenty of time to study O-Chem and I desperately need an A!

I always feel like I’m not doing enough; I should be volunteering more, more shadowing, more leadership opportunities, or research since I don’t have any yet! This helps me remember that I’m on the right path and that I’ve accomplished a lot. I will always feel like I’m not doing enough, but that doesn’t mean it’s true. If you’re like me and you always feel that way, take a few minutes to look back and see how far you’ve come! It will make you feel a lot better. 🙂

Hopefully by the time the next World Cup comes around, I will be in medical school. 🙂

Wish me luck!




Hi everyone!

Welcome to my blog! My name is Andrea and I will be your host in the crazy roller coaster that is my life as a pre-med student.

So, let me tell you my story.

I never wanted to be a doctor. As a matter of fact, my father and I always joked that I would never be a doctor because I didn’t like math and I wasn’t good at science. I was never really interested in school; I was more concerned about imaginary characters that my friends and I could pretend to be in our childhood games. School just wasn’t for me; I would put as little effort as possible and concentrate on cartoons instead.

I moved to the US when I was twelve, almost thirteen. My parents decided to put me in a program with tutors to help me with my school work as well as speed up the process of learning English. It worked; my English wasn’t perfect, but I could understand the basics and hold a conversation. My grades also started improving since I could understand what my teachers were trying to teach me.

I graduated High School on June 5th, 2009 and I started college that Fall. I didn’t know what I wanted to do; I had taken a psychology class in High School and I loved it, so I took an intro course. That was the only class I really cared for.

Since I didn’t know what I wanted to do and I wanted to have a social life, my grades suffered. I had wanted to take a year off before starting college, but my parents didn’t let me. I’m grateful that they did that, because I know it would’ve been much harder to start if I had taken a break. However, it did have its consequences. I didn’t want to be at school, so I didn’t try hard enough. My GPA was really low; I was in warning for a few semesters. It also didn’t help that I was getting married in Spring 2010; my focus was on the wedding, not in my studies.

After I got married, my grades started getting better but not fast enough. I faced academic probation; one last semester before I would be suspended for a semester. Thankfully, the thought of not being able to return to school for a year was motivation enough to start trying. I was able to bring my grades up and get out of academic probation. It was around this time that I thought about going to medical school; I wanted to be able to prescribe medication to my patients, and I couldn’t do that as a psychologist.

I went to talk to the pre-med advisor, and I told her I  was thinking about it but wasn’t sure if it was for me. I had always been squeamish and I wasn’t very good at chemistry. She told me to take an intro class and see how I would do. I took the class and passed it with a B-, so I kept going. However, my GPA was still very low. Definitely too low for medical school, so when I went to talk to the advisor she told me to re-consider my career choices and talk to the psych advisor about going to grad school for psychology instead.

My spirit was crushed.

After a few short hours in despair, I pulled myself together and decided that I wouldn’t give up so easily. When someone tells me I can’t do something, it makes me want to try even harder. That’s exactly what I did; I worked harder than ever and started earning good grades. It was around this time that I took a Biopsycology course. At the end of the year, my professor took us to the psychology lab and we got to touch a human brain. I was a little nervous, but I put on my gloves and waited patiently in line.

It’s going to sound super cheesy, but it doesn’t make it any less true. I picked up the brain as gently as I could, and I felt like Harry Potter did when he picked up his wand for the first time. Angels were singing, light rays were shining from my hands, all those cheesy things that would describe that moment. It was the sudden realization that this is what I meant to do. THIS WAS MY CALLING.

This was about two years ago. It was then that I decided to become a serious pre-med student and seriously pursue medicine. I’ve been working hard ever since, and my grades have greatly improved. My GPA is not perfect, which will pose a problem when I apply, but I’m trying. I have a lot of extracurricular activities that I hope will show my dedication to this field.

It is scary knowing that my grades could more than likely cut my dream short, but that’s not reason to quit without trying. I’d rather fail giving it my all than fail because I didn’t try. I will keep earning as many A’s as I can, and I will never give up. I know I can be a great doctor, and it’s up to me to show medical school committees that my past grades do not define my future.

I’m at a point in my studies that, if all goes well, I will be taking the MCAT next May. This means I will be applying to medical school next June. I didn’t do well in my Physics class and Organic Chemistry class (C+ for both) last semester, so I will be retaking them at some point before the MCAT. It was really disheartening because I had been getting straight A’s, and I felt like I had ruined my chances to go to med school; my GPA couldn’t take any more hits, I could only get A’s or B+’s.  I’m not going to give up though; I’m going to keep trying and try to get A’s when I retake those classes.

I dunno what the future will hold, but I will do my best to keep going and work hard. Somehow, someday, I will be a great doctor. And if for some reason I don’t, at least I’ll know that I gave it my all and I never gave up. I hope you will all join me in this journey and maybe give me some inspiration to get going. 🙂 The best part of doing this is that you don’t go at it alone.

Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll enjoy this blog! It’ll give you some insight as to what it takes to be a pre-med student, and if you are one, maybe you’ll learn from my mistakes so you won’t make them.

Wish me luck!