Sandra Goldlust ’15, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Sandra-GoldlustDay 1:
Today was the first day of my Princeternship at the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania (CHOP) shadowing Dr. Howard Snyder III, MD, an attending urologist and professor of Urology in Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Once the other Princetern and I had arrived, Sharon Brown, who works for the Division of Urology, showed us around the clinic and introduced us to Dr. Howard Snyder ’65. Dr. Snyder taught us about the surgical techniques used in hypospadias repairs and soon after we had the chance to watch the procedure close-up in the operating room. I had never before had the chance to observe surgery and it brought to life so much that I had read in books.

Later that day, Dr. Snyder took us to the Mütter Museum, where he is on the board of trustees of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. The museum is filled with some of the most fascinating medical abnormalities such as the skeleton of one of the world’s tallest people and the body of the soap woman.  I definitely hope to return to the museum in the future and I am looking forward to starting again early tomorrow!

Day 2:
Today we shadowed Dr. Snyder in the clinic, where we saw a variety of pediatric urologic conditions, such as UTIs and kidney infections. Dr. Snyder developed a unique treatment plan for each of his patients, carefully explaining the medical details to his young patients and their parents. Dr. Snyder recommended biofeedback techniques to several of his patients, in order to offer useful solutions without immediately turning to medication.  Between patients, we learned all about Dr. Snyder’s involvement in health policy and his experiences as both a general surgeon and pediatric urologist.

Day 3:
Today was the last day of the Princeternship and we observed a pyeloplasty performed laparoscopically. Once the camera was inserted, one of the residents explained each step of the procedure, which we could follow on a large screen. It was fascinating to me that such a major repair could be performed through such a small incision, minimizing the patient’s recovery time. Although the surgery was several hours long, the time seemed to fly by.

After the surgery, we sat in on aphoto 2 conference in which the residents presented their most challenging cases. After each presentation, they discussed the risks and benefits of different possible approaches in order to determine the best treatment plan.  It was a great experience for us to learn not only about standard treatments in the field, but also some of the more cutting-edge approaches. Overall, the experience was definitely unique in the way it combined exposure to the clinic, the operating room, and health policy, all within the context of a teaching hospital. These three days have gone by so quickly, but I am grateful to have had this opportunity.

Redab Alnifaidy ’14, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Redab-AlnifaidyThe first morning of the Princeternship in the division of Pediatric Urology at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the clinic wasn’t open yet so we got changed into scrubs right away and went down to the OR suite. We were just catching the end of a hypospadias repair, and one of the residents explained the procedure to us. The patient’s urethra did not exit at the usual location, so the surgery was done to construct a tube that terminates at the proper location for normal excretion, which would have consequences in fertility later if left untreated. I understood the premise of the operation and was feeling great about how the doctors were helping this patient! Even just understanding the purpose and basic premise of this complicated procedure made me feel good about surgery. Next, we went  to another OR with an operation on a concealed phallus. The room was a bit smaller, and there were more people attending (nurses, doctors, and trainees). The other Princetern, Sandra Goldlust ’15, and I stood on a step to see over the operating table in order to get a good look at what was going on.

Twenty minutes into the surgery, it started getting difficult to breathe through the facemask, and I felt light-headed. My vision blurred and I felt a cold-sweat coming on. I whispered to one of the nurses that I wasn’t feeling so great and then I stepped out of the OR. I thought to myself, am I not cut out to be a surgeon? Am I allergic to the OR? How can I learn to breathe better through the facemask? The thoughts were overwhelming, but after stepping out of the room and drinking some milk I had gotten out of the vending machine in the lounge, I realized skipping breakfast was a horrible idea. With the excitement of the whole experience, I had overlooked having a good breakfast that first morning. Needless to say, I kept my eyes open for breakfast food on my way to the hospital the next two days. When we met Dr. Howard Snyder ’65 that afternoon, he assured me that fainting was a common occurrence in surgery — and told me about the time he fainted while watching a particularly intense orthopedic procedure as a resident.

Alnifaidy 1

Sandra Goldlust ’15 (left) and Redab Alnifaidy ’14 in scrubs at CHOP Princeternship

We spent a lot of time shadowing Dr. Snyder in the clinic, where he saw patients that had been referred to him as a specialist through a primary care doctor. There was quite a range of symptoms, and each time, Dr. Snyder would carefully explain to the patient’s parents the medical issue behind the symptoms on a simplified anatomical diagram. Of course, at the end of the consultation, the child was offered a sugarless lollipop, and soon I had wanted one myself. The experience of being in a Children’s Hospital is best summarized in a quote by Tish, the nurse in the clinic: “It’s so difficult to learn in a children’s hospital because you’re always distracted by the cute kids!” Very true.
One of the highlights of the Princeternship was getting to see the exhibits in the Mutter Museum at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. They had everything from antique instruments, to skeletons, to mould-castings of conjoined twins. Dr. Snyder led us through the artifacts, telling us of his experience dealing with similar cases in his practice. It was not only a showcase of the extremes in medicine, but also an inside look at the human body in a way that one does not get the chance to see very often. The Mutter Museum is now on my list of favorite things to do in Philadelphia, and I’m excited to visit again sometime in the future and spend more time in pure fascination of the artifacts.

This experience is my first time observing surgery, and through my interactions with the doctors, nurses, and staff at CHOP, I was able to get a lot of questions answered and advice about going into the medical field. This experience has only strengthened my desire to go into medicine — it will give me an added umph that will hopefully be expressed in my medical school applications, and we will see what the future holds for me from there on. My sincerest gratitude goes to Dr. Howard Snyder, his receptionist Sharon Brown, and all of the residents, nurses, and staff in the department. Thank you all for such a great experience!