Shadowing in Ophthalmology

Jamie Choe,

Shadowing this semester has been a blessing in ways that I could have never expected. I have shadowed a few other physicians in the past, but none have been as openly Christian or active in medical missions as this doctor. I’m not sure if I should directly attribute the qualities that make him stand out only to his strong faith as a Christian, but for some nagging reason I can’t help but believe that this faith must have played a significant role in the development of the traits that he has which make him such a successful and admired doctor.

If there is anything I learned from observing him, it is that, first and foremost, patients are people. With all the medical-based television shows on air these days, it seems like the blunt and the reckless are the ones to be admired. People don’t take notice of a television character that is kind, patient, and follows protocol to treat the patient well (i.e. Grey’s Anatomy). For the sake of entertainment, society has painted the picture of a successful physician as someone who is cutthroat and willing to compromise even his or her morals to achieve success. As much as we would all like to say we are above the influence of pop culture, I could feel myself starting to question if this is what a doctor was supposed to be like. Now that I sit here writing those thoughts out, it seems like a rather silly thing for me to have believed. Nevertheless, at the time I could feel myself being influenced to look at people less personably and more objectively. For example, upon meeting someone for the first time, the gears of my mind would already be turning to figure out what this person would need from me and how he or she would be able to help me in return. I became less concerned with actually getting to know people and was not intentional in inquiring about what was going on in their lives. I could feel that I was trading the potential for meeting people and forming several deep relationships with simply forming a plethora of ‘useful’, but superficial ones. Seeing the individualized attention and personable demeanor in which this doctor interacts with every single one of his patients is truly inspiring. He makes his patient feel like a friend, not a client, and shares/relates his own life to whatever situation he or she may be going through.

Of course, being a good physician involves a deep knowledge of textbook medicine; but in order to be a great physician, one must go beyond possessing simply book-smart traits. I realized this semester that getting to know your patients’ personality, background, preferences, etc. can play a significant role in their treatment plan (or even in coming to a diagnosis!). I honestly could not have asked for a better physician to shadow this semester. I can sense that ophthalmology is not my calling, but I have genuinely enjoyed learning about this branch of medicine and gained a new appreciation for eyes as one of the most critical organs in our bodies. As both a healthcare professional and a person, this doctor is someone I will continue look up.