Updated: May 6, 2020
AS Of 11/27/2018 DUE TO AN INCREASE IN SURGICAL STUDENTS, 3 OF MY BUSIEST HOSPITALS ARE NO LONGER ACCEPTING OBSERVERS IN THE OR SO THE SHADOWING APPLICATION PROCESS WILL BE CLOSED FOR NOW. WE WILL REOPEN AS SOON AS WE CAN, GIVING PRIORITY TO STUDENTS WHO ARE ALREADY ON THE WAITING LIST. THANK YOU FOR YOUR KIND UNDERSTANDING.
Want to shadow me in the Operating room? Awesome! Shadowing is one of the best ways to learn about a typical day in the life of a surgical PA like myself. Also, you get to experience a day in the life of all the other members of a surgical team as well.
I fell in love with surgery when I was about 10 years old when a veterinarian allowed my best friend and me to observe an emergency exploratory laparotomy on my best friend's sick kitty cat. It changed the entire course of my life. I will never forget how I felt, and the level of fascination and awe I had for the surgeon and the surgery itself, as he worked his best to save the kitty's life. In those moments I felt a profound calling to become a healer, and to use surgery as a way to cure illness and make people feel better. I guarantee you will never forget the first time you observe surgery! This is why I strongly believe shadowing in the operating room is so very important for those who have the curiosity. It might just change the course of your life like it did mine.
I offer shadowing opportunities for any and all surgically interested students, not just aspiring PAs. I have opened up shadowing to aspiring nurses, Nurse Practitioners, Nurse anesthetists, and aspiring surgeons and physicians. I have had students coming in interested in being PAs, and leave wanting to pursue being nurses or surgeons and go on to make it happen. I've also had the opposite happen many times as well! The operating room offers students a very unique opportunity to experience all these different surgical professions in one setting, where you can observe an entire surgical team, each member with a different educational path, degree, and certification, working together.
I perform surgery in multiple specialties, so you have a chance to observe me in a few surgical specialties. Many days I can perform surgeries, in multiple specialties in one day! For now, it's hard to match students with their preferred specialty to observe, because surgery schedules in general, change constantly. We cannot guarantee you will get to observe the specific surgery you want. We try our best to match you, to the best of our abilities, but it doesn't always happen.
My Surgical Specialties
Cardiac, Vascular and Thoracic Surgery
General Surgery, open, laparoscopic and Davinci Robotic Surgery
Cosmetic and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery
OB-GYN including cesarean sections, open and laparoscopic as well as Davinci Robotic SurgeryOthopedic Surgery: Total Joint Replacements
Urology/surgical Nephrology, open, laparoscopic and Davinci Robotics
Here are the Pre-requisites to Shadow.
Must be surgically inclined, and show a genuine interest in surgery
Must have completed or must be currently working towards pre-requisites for admission into a medical program of any kind.
Must be currently taking or have already taken Anatomy and Physiology
If chosen to shadow, you are responsible for travel and boarding costs from your location to Fort Lauderdale, FL
Must Submit a brief 1-3 paragraph statement describing your interested surgical profession, how observing surgery would help you meet your career goals and your level of education so far, with ability to show proof of that, if asked.
The Acceptance Process
My right-hand woman, that runs my office, her name is Birgit, does a preliminary review of the applications, and sends me the ones that meet all criteria, then I review the individual application and if I like it, I'll approve it and send back to Birgit to set up time, date, cases to study and other details like a hospital, where to park, as well as reaching out to you to fill out hospital paperwork for permission to shadow.
If Accepted you will be required to
Read up on the surgical cases you are scheduled to observe (google is your best friend)
Read up on the surgical technique
Know pertinent anatomy and critical anatomical structures
Watch 3+ YouTube Videos about the operation and be prepared to answer questions and discuss all of this and use your critical thinking skills**Anyone who shows up unprepared will be sent home. Observing surgery is an absolute privilege, and patients are allowing you to observe them at their most vulnerable, and they deserve to have students who value the shadowing experience.
Show up early
Be prepared to stand for long periods of time, wearing comfortable shows compression socks is highly recommended
You can wear scrubs if you have them, or any comfortable clothes will be fine too because you will be asked to change into OR scrubs when you get there.
In some instances, you will be asked to bring your own lunch
Read my tips on maximizing your shadowing in the OR here: Get the most out of your surgical shadowing by doing these things
What are your acceptance criteria? Well, all I'm looking for is genuine interest and passion in surgery, and proof that you are working hard in some way to reach your goal of having a career in medicine. I
s there a waiting list? Yes, right now we have a 1-3 month waiting list. But be patient, because its worth it! ;)
How many students can observe at one time? Only 1 at a time. I like to give individualized attention, and also we often have other students such as PA students, CRNA students, nursing, and medical students too, and having too many in one room takes away from the experience I think.
Can you shadow more than once? Absolutely! If I like you and you proved yourself to be bright and passionate, everybody gets to come back, all you have to do it reschedule with Birgit.
If I shadow you, Will you write me a recommendation? NO. Definitely not from shadowing one day. I typically give recommendations for students I have had for at least 6 months to 1 year, and only to those who I feel deserve it.
What will you teach me? Well as long as the operation is going well, I will try to point out pertinent anatomical structures, show you some sterile technique, scrubbing in, basic suturing technique, and sometimes even allow you to feel a tissue specimen. More than anything, I will try to bridge the gap between Anatomy and Physiology as it applies to a real patient, and I try my best to make your previous education and studying up on the case come alive for you.
Can I ask questions during the operation? Yes, you can, but read the room. Typically when things in the operating field are unexpectedly difficult- this happens a lot in surgery because the human body is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get until you get in there- typa thing, everyone gets quiet because the entire team is focused on the patient. But as a general rule if were talking to you, you can talk to us, and ask questions. I always recommend taking notes and writing down your questions during the case, just in case I can't answer them during, I can answer them after for you.
Can I take pictures? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Taking pictures of a patient in the operating room without their consent is an act punishable by federal law under HIPPA, and you will sign a patient privacy waiver before you are allowed to shadow. Even if the patient is de-identified, it can cause the entire surgical team to lose their medical licenses and pay hefty fines. I typically do allow selfies and such, to commemorate your first OR experience, but we do it outside of the operating room, very far away from patients.
Can I leave early? Yes, but its seen as a sign of weakness lol Just being honest. I'm kidding. Somewhat lol