Shadowing in Orthopedics

Brenna Martin,

Over the course of this semester I shadowed an orthopedic surgeon. Since I had never shadowed before, this experience was eye opening to me in various ways. Through watching the doctor interact with his patients I have seen that there is definitely a proper way to relay information to a patient. Often times the patients are nervous and vulnerable and telling them that you have never performed a certain surgery before that you are about to perform on them will only increase their nervousness. Instead, doctors must rephrase it to inform them that their injury is rare, while also making them feel at ease and confident that they can perform the surgery well, even if the doctor has never performed it before. I also noticed how the doctor wanted to get to know his patients on a personal level. Many times doctors are portrayed to be cold and detached from their patients but the doctor expressed his genuine care for the patient by engaging in conversations that had nothing to do with their ailment or upcoming surgery. Another thing he did was to make sure that all the patient’s questions were answered, even if it was taking a long time and would get him behind schedule. One patient even expressed their gratitude for him doing so, which just goes to show how much it means to patients, that the doctor is willing to take his time and ensure that they have had a beneficial experience. Not only did I just get to observe, I actually got to try and do a knee examination on a patient. Although I was not very good at it, I was grateful for the opportunity.

However, the most meaningful incident happened on my last day of shadowing when one of patients was telling him about their experience throughout their own surgery. They said that they could not remember a thing from that day because it was so a tragic and chaotic, except for when the doctor took the time to say a little prayer over the patient before going into surgery. This really hit me as to how big of an influence a doctor can have on their patients. One little thoughtless act can mean the world to a patient and make their experience go from bad to good. A simple little prayer that he barely thought twice about meant so much to this patient and gave them the hope and inner strength they needed to heal. I can only hope that one day I can have an impact like that on one of my patients.

I am so thankful to have gotten this opportunity to shadow and get to know the doctor and his assistant and to experience one way that my passion for medicine could be put to use in real life.