Beaver alumnus Henry Feldman, M.D. ’85 writes about the experiences of three Beaver students under his supervision as part of a summer internship.
The shadowing program for Beaver students at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is wrapping up after an exciting summer, and the students have matured and grown greatly over that time. The program started in 2008 to provide students who are interested in health care careers an in-depth experience in medicine, and has progressed steadily, with this year being especially rewarding for both me and the students.
The program selects several young women from the incoming senior class for a program where they experience an intense summer in all aspects of clinical care in the hospital. Students must go through a competitive application process to be selected to participate. This year three great students were chosen: Alexys Butler ’12, Brielle Butler ’12, and Melissa Carp ’12. One student, David Taus ’12 was also selected for a research experience with my informatics group. My wife, Dr. Lori Feldman, accepted Amanda Saker ’12 into her veterinary practice.
Each student rotated through almost every service in the hospital, including a week in the ICU (with Amber Moore, daughter of Liz Bornhoft ’70), medical wards, oncology, transplant, cardiology, med-surg nursing, OB/GYN, cardiac-cath lab, endoscopy suite (with Doug Pleskow P’04, ’07, ’11), PT/OT, social work, pharmacy, clinical-pathology, anatomic pathology, veterinary medicine (with my wife), the Emergency Department, and others. They also attended many of the medical conferences, some of which were run by Chief Resident and former Beaver faculty member, Liz Sandman. Mondays were our didactic day with a two hour lecture on anatomy/physiology as well as a debrief of the week before. On Thursdays we all attended the autopsy conference.
These experiences were very in-depth, and the students all had moving experiences. One of the key purposes during the summer was for students to stretch outside their comfort zones. In the ICU, Melissa comments on her first direct encounter with death:
“Not only did I learn a lot about medicine and the health care profession, but I also got to see things that at times were far outside of my comfort zone. One of the toughest moments of the summer was witnessing the death of a lovely elderly patient. Watching this man take his last breath was something I will never forget. Before this experience, I never imagined what it was like to tell a family or patient that there is nothing else they can do. Even though I knew that the gentleman’s prognosis was not promising, it was impossible to prepare for the moment of his passing. Looking at the mourning family next to the lifeless body made me feel overwhelmed with emotions. As I left the room with tears rolling down my face, I finally understood the downsides of medicine.” – Melissa Carp
Alexys, during the same week, also saw her first “crash” surgery. This is a pretty big shock if you’ve never seen surgery, let alone one being performed in the patient’s room, as he is too critical to move to the OR. But from that patient she took away a lesson in the humanism of medicine as well:
“During our Medical Intensive Care Unit rotation, my classmate and I witnessed a patient who had been horribly infected with vibrio vulnificus. It is a horrible bacteria that one can get from eating fresh seafood such as clams or oysters. Not only was I interested in the infection and the ways in which it is cured, but I was really affected and touched by the support he got from his family. Every day my classmate and I would go into his room with the doctors during rounds to check on him and see how much progress he was making, and we saw pictures of his daughters along with the handcrafted cards they had made for their “daddy.” I believe the sweetest gesture was the wedding picture that his wife put at the foot of his bed. This gesture really touched my heart and made me think back to the times when my loved ones were in the hospital. This case specifically reminded me of why I want to be a doctor. I take joy in other’s joy. I’m happy when life goes well for others. I love to see people reunited with their family members. I love to make people feel better.” – Alexys Butler
One of the highlights of the experience was to go with one of our obstetricians, Dr. Okamura, into either a baby delivery or a c-section. Seeing life at the beginning is always a moving experience, no matter how many times you’ve seen it. Brielle was able to be at the table to observe a c-section:
“It was amazing to stand there and watch her operate. There was so much blood, and I wasn’t sure I could handle it, but I watched the entire process. Watching a new life come into the world was incredible, and interacting with the mom makes you realize how special it is to be a doctor. It really helped make me understand what this career is about and will help me plan my future.” – Brielle Butler
Watching the students grow over the summer was a rewarding experience, and their parents and the school should be proud of their maturity and professionalism. There aren’t a lot of schools that would consider offering something like this, but Beaver has equipped these students with the ability to adapt way outside their comfort zones and grow. I am sure these young women have a fantastic future ahead of them. They have had an experience that they will never forget, and it will help them plan for their futures. It was a pleasure to teach them about what I do.
Top Image: Brielle Butler ‘12, Alexys Butler ‘12, Melissa Carp ‘12, Henry Feldman M.D. ‘85