Shadowing a Neurosurgen

Travis Chura, sophomore pre-med student:

The shadowing experience I have had this semester has been nothing short of extraordinary. I had the opportunity of shadowing Dr. Trammell who is a fairly young neurosurgeon, I mean young relative to the world of practicing physicians, who has taught me what being a physician is really about. Dr. Trammell specializes in aneurysms and spinal cord
decompression surgeries such as laminectomies, spinal fusions, and discectomies. Through the work in the clinic I mainly observed patients who were concerned with stenosis or compression of the spinal cord, however, he did enlighten me on the cases he performed outside the clinic. I did not get to shadow him at Henderick during his surgeries, but outside of his clinical work he also performed brain surgery on patients to obtain biopsies or remove tumors. He assured me that being a physician is 100% worth it and I could see why after the first few weeks. I experienced patients that came back for a two week post-operation check up and saw how pleased everyone was with their “new” selves. I even got experience the diagnosis of stenosis in one patient and see the 2 follow ups after. Initially, the patient came in in tears because of the immense pain being generated down her right leg due to the compression of the spinal cord in the lumbar vertebra. The patient explained how the pain interfered with everyday life and took away the tasks that were once enjoyed. A few weeks later I recognized the name of the patient for the two week post-op check up, and again I could hear the patient crying. Frustrated with what could still be wrong, Dr. Trammell and I proceed to enter the room to hear the words, “thank you so much, you have giving me my life back.” This was the only experience I had with a patient crying out of joy for the successful surgery, but it seemed to be a recurring experience. Seeing the many patients like this, I feel this is the perfect career choice for me.

The experience in Dr. Trammell’s office also opened my eyes to the art of patient care. I used to want to be an anesthesiologist so I would not have to deal with patients directly except for the short consultations before the surgery. Now, however, I realize there is something special with getting to know your patients and seeing the change in their lives, but with the good there also comes bad. There were only a few cases, but twice I had to witness the doctor not operate due to inoperable malignant tumors.

Overall this experience has been a true blessing and has solidified my choice in pursuing a career as a health professional. I can’t wait to find out which doctor I will shadow next semester and get insight of what other physicians do. Hopefully I will become as intrigued with the new specialty as I did with neurosurgery, but that is going to be really difficult because everything in the field of neurosurgery was absolutely fascinating.

ACU pre-medical and pre-dental students shadow doctors for real-life experience.
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