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My First Time in the OR

Updated: May 14, 2022

Where do I start... I had an AMAZING time in the OR.

Before I get into my experience in the OR I would like to inform you about how I was able to do this. I was in organic lab about two weeks ago when I saw a flyer for a Student Alliance for Health Involvement at Emory (SAHI) event. This event started 30 minutes before my lab ended. I still decided to go because I hoped to gain some new information and they had pizza. There was a small panel consisting of a resident, a graduate student, and a professor. I was intrigued to find that the doctor is a woman orthopedic surgeon. I noticed that she seemed to be busy as she was checking her phone often and when the event ended she was the first one to leave. I was a little unsure if I would be able to have a small conversation with her. However, I decided to go for it. You never know what can come from meeting someone new. I introduced myself to Dr. Janice outside of the event and we began walking up the stairs and talking. We then reached a place where we would be going opposite ways and the conversation was going well. I let her know that I was a third-year student and had just come out of lab. She seemed surprised that I would go to the event straight after lab. After more conversation about her journey, I asked her if she happened to know any orthopedic surgeons that were open to shadowing. She informed me that residents are not able to have students shadow them but that she did have someone in mind. She told me to email her and that she would put us in touch.

The day after I met Dr. Janice I sent her an email about how awesome it is that she is helping to increase the diversity in medicine and that I was open to shadowing. She sent an email back to Dr. Michelle letting her know a little about me and that I was looking to shadow.

That same day Dr. Michelle called me and let me know which days she would be in clinic/OR. I was extremely appreciative and emailed her the next day on which days I would be available. Out of the eight days that I had two of them worked for both of us.



 

Come last Wednesday, I was casually studying for the MCAT when I noticed it was 1 am. I then checked my calendar when I saw I had to job shadow and be there at 7 am. I quickly got ready for bed and ensured to set my alarms.

Thursday I woke up early to ensure that I had enough time to drive the 30 minutes to the clinic. When I get there I talk to the receptionists and they let me know that Dr. Michelle was actually in the OR. I felt a little dispirited however, I decided to see if I would still be able to do some type of shadowing that day. I text Dr. Michelle and ask if today is still a good day to shadow. She said no, but then out of nowhere, she said to come to the OR. Luckily she was not scrubbed in yet and told me that I could watch her in the OR if I wanted to go. Ecstatic about the opportunity I told her yes and that I would be there in 30 minutes. I ended up driving an hour in the morning to get to the clinic and then the OR.

Once I got to the OR I check in with the receptionist and Dr. Michelle had instructed the independent certified athletic trainer (ATC) to be on the look out for me. We did a quick introduction and then she showed me how to scrub in. It was really cool to scrub in for the first time I'm sure later on it will just be something that you do with not too much thought. However, the first time is special. After we were both scrubbed in we checked in with the nurse that keeps track of everyone in the room. After her we met the surgical tech who helped put our gowns and gloves on. I found out that my glove size is 6-6.5. I was then introduced to the other providers in the room. There was a resident, the doctor, a nurse, a radiologic tech, two ATC (one in training), the surgical tech, the anesthesiologist and someone who was keeping track of the different tools being used.

Before I got there they had made a paste from a different part of the body to promote bone growth for the foot. I helped by passing the drill, using retractors, suction and gauze. The doctor drilled a few holes where the paste would be packed into. She then placed a few screws into the bone and closed the incision with two different types of sutures.

For the second patient he broke his fibula playing football. It was really cool to be able to see the fracture on the x-ray and the actual bone. For his they ended up using a few different screws and a plate to set it straight and added stability. The doctor allowed the resident to do most of this surgery. The resident used size 14 screws the surgical tech told me we had to make sure to measure the screws again just incase it was put in the wrong place. Below is an example of what it looked like.

Overall, surgery was pretty cool my feet and arms were sore after standing and holding my arms up for so long. It was a very valuable experience to have and I am grateful to have met Dr. Janice and Dr. Michelle. Shoot your shot guys! you never know what will happen after a small conversation.



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