In any medical field direct observation is important for medical students. It is important for a medical student to make a clinical observation, because it helps him learn a lot about communication skills, physical examinations, and procedures. As a medical student, I thought I should observe a health care professional taking care of his patients at a hospital as a closer way to learn about my field. For this reason, I decided to attend Oak Wood Hospital for clinical observation, in the United States. I received permission to do my clinical observation with Dr. Thomas Siegel.
Dr. Thomas Siegel works as a surgeon at Oak Wood Hospital in Michigan. I now know that Dr. Siegel is a well-educated and nice doctor who is willing to help students and patients. In the operation room, Dr. Siegel answered all of my questions patiently, also in return he asked me some questions to know how much I knew about thyroid and breast cancer.
My first step was to receive permission to do my clinical observation at Oak Wood Hospital. So, I contacted the Chief of Education at Oakwood Hospital, Ms. Jill, who helped me fill out my application in order to be present in the operation room with Dr. Thomas Siegel.
I was a little nervous on my first day at the hospital, because it was my first time in the OR and my first observation for a real surgery. Before attending the operation room, some of the resident students tried to scare me by explaining the atmosphere inside the OR. I realized that no matter what, I have to do my best to get Dr. Siegel’s attention. I wanted Dr. Siegel to have a positive impression about me in the operation room. For this reason, I ignored all I heard and I stayed focussed on goal.
I walked into the room and stood aside, watching the nurses getting the room ready for surgery. Five minutes later, they brought the patient inside the room. The patient was a 69 year old woman with thyroid cancer. The Registered Nurse asked me for my name and the university that I was attending at that time and my age, so she could register me in the system. Ten minutes later Dr. Siegel came in with his washed hands, the nurse helped him to wear his scrubs, and he started checking the attendance for his team.
After checking his team attendance, he turned to me and said, “Oh we have a visitor today, so can you please introduce yourself to the team so we can get started.” I raised my voice with complete confidence and said, “My name is Mouhamad Ahmad, I am a 23 year old medical student attending Washington University of Health and Science. I am here today to observe with Dr. Siegel and learn more from his wide experience and I hope that you can accept me among your team.” He replied with a nice smile and said, “Nice to meet you Mohamad, and welcome aboard.” Then he asked me if I knew what they were going to do that day. I replied, “Yes sir, we are doing a thyroid cancer surgery.” Also he asked me to define thyroid. I answered with confidence, “Sure, thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that is located low on the front of the neck.” Then he started the operation. Dr. Siegel finished removing thyroid cancer in half an hour, after that he left the room for the resident student to do the stitches.
As he was leaving, Dr. Siegel he asked me to walk with him to his office, and asked if I enjoyed and learned from this operation. I answered, “Yes, this is new to me and this is my first time in the OR. I learned how to locate the thyroid and how to remove cancer parts of the thyroid. As well, I learned that when we finish the surgery we put radioactive iodine for treatment to prevent the spread of the cancer. He replied with a nice smile and told me that I did a great job.
Fifteen minutes later, he asked me to walk with him to observe an interview and check up for another patient who also has thyroid cancer surgery in about an hour, after he looked on his file and studied the patient’s case. We went to the patient’s room. Dr. Siegel introduced himself to the patient and the family, and then he paused and looked at me. At that moment I understood that he wanted me to introduce myself too. I introduced myself to them, and then he started asking the patient about his morale. He explained to the patient how the surgery would go and briefly explained what thyroid cancer is, due to a request from the patient’s family. After that, he shook hands with the patient and told him that he was in good hands and that they would take care of him and then we left.
I really enjoyed working with and observing Dr. Siegel. He is a very kind human who loves his job. He has high communication skills that allow him to easily comfort his patients. I learned a lot from this wise surgeon and I am willing to attend more surgeries with him, so that I can gain more experience and get ready for my clinical rotation, residency and then become a successful physician like Dr. Siegel.
I realized that clinical observation is the best way to determine if a medical student is responsible enough to master this profession. Moreover, most medical programs, like PA, require a recommendation letter from a professional person who works within the field. For this reason, I decided to do my clinical observation before graduating from medical school and before I prepare for the USMLE exam.
Also, good networks are essential. Sometimes it opens the door for new opportunities, services, or internship. So due to the importance of networking in the medical field, I stayed in contact with Dr. Thomas Siegel hoping to get my recommendation letter from this professional doctor.
I still insist to continue my clinical observation, whenever I have the chance. It’s a great way to learn my medical field and get ready for my clinical rotation.
-Mouhmamad Ahmad, Washington University of Health and Science