Update from Tess – Clinic Day 1 – 9 Aug 2013

Day 5 – Update from Tess – Clinic Day 1

9 Aug 2013

I started the day excited but nervous.  This was only perpetuated when I realized that I was assigned to pediatrics, one of the most fast paced and demanding specialities.  I was impressed by the ability of my attending to gather pertinent information from her pint sized patients, and scared stiff when she turned the question asking over to me.  It took only a few “Great question!” responses to send me through the roof with pride.  Dr. Spiller explained the subtle nuances of the relationship between child, pediatrician, and parent.  All three participants play important parts in a child’s health care.  It was inspiring to see how quickly she was able to connect with her patient and I learned the importance of quick and educated decision making.

After a lunch which I could not wait to finish, I was hustled back to clinic to begin my dermatology rotation.  I do not consider dermatology to be my strong point, and I was again thrown back into a state of petrified silence.  I became acutely aware that this would not be accepted when Dr. Lacasse turned to me and my classmates and said “What is this?” We all responded with a sheepish shrug, which was met with a repeated “What is this?”  It was clear that we were expected to step up and be in charge of our education.  We were not at lecture, watching someone explain their experiences.  We were having our own experiences.  The three of us tried our darndest to come up with something, anything.  Not one of our ideas were mocked.  Though none of our conjectures were correct we left standing tall, because NOW we knew the answer to “What is this?”

The rash and cream portion of the day ended when Dr. Dane handed me a scalpel and said “Try to cut straight.” I maintained as steady a hand as possible while I performed the first procedure of my life.  I removed a 5 cm diameter skin tag from a women’s back.  As I finished cauterizing the wound, I was informed that “another big surgery” was about enter our room.  Dr. Dane proceeded to remove a basal cell carcinoma from behind a man’s ear.  This was when I truly realized the magnitude of dermatology’s influence on people’s lives. Today we changed people’s perception of themselves.  They no longer will live with these painful or embarrassing or deadly growths.

Just as I thought the day could not get better, Dr. Reddi entered the room and asked me to assist her with an incision and drain on a woman’s scalp.  Five minutes later I said my first “Can I do it?”  I was delighted when I was handed a syringe full of lidocaine.  Dr. Reddi allowed me to numb the site and aid in the incision.  She then told me, for my first time, “Put your finger in this.  Do you feel it?” I couldn’t believe that I was feeling the skull of the woman smiling back at me.  I had done this, and these physicians had taught me and empowered me to do so.  This experience was followed by Dr. Dane handing me a suture kit and guiding me through my first suture.  His patience never faltered.  He guided my hand and talked me through the procedure.  He reassured me that “It isn’t you’re fault” as I bent two needles. He then trusted me with the “big momma” 3.  This needle was not stymied by the thick scalp.  Dr. Dane gifted me with a few more tricks of the trade and I left the procedure with pride and jargon that I can’t wait to use.

Today I truly felt like I will be a doctor.  I am grateful for the trust of my teachers and colleagues and the strength of the Peruvian people that granted me the honor of treating them today.

Categories: Updates from Peru

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