As this was my first time doing some type of shadowing in the medical field, I was very excited to go to the Swedish Neuroscience Institute in Seattle, Washington to shadow Dr. Charles Cobbs ‘85 for the next three days. I was able to gain so much through this Princeternship and the three days I shadowed Dr. Cobbs definitely made my Spring Break memorable.
On the first day of the Princeternship, the other Princetern, Hope Xu, and I changed into scrubs and went to the OR with Dr. Cobbs. In the OR, we got to observe Dr. Cobbs take out a tumor in one of his patients. Before he started, he told us that if we felt light-headed or dizzy from the smell of blood or seeing it for the first time, we could lie down near the corner or leave the room for a little bit. I did not realize that people could react to blood in this way, so after he said this, I started getting worried about how my body would react to blood. Would I faint? Would I need to leave the room? Would this mean that I would have to rethink about whether or not I wanted to be a surgeon? Thoughts started circulating in my head before the operation even started. When Dr. Cobbs started the surgery, however, I was very surprised because my body did not react in the way I thought it would. Fortunately, I did not feel dizzy or light-headed, and observed the whole surgery in awe. I was unable to remove my eyes off the big screen, which magnified the surgery that he was performing on the patient.
The second day was also spent shadowing Dr. Cobbs, who let us see MRI scans of patients’ brains so we could see where he was going to cut into the brain to take out the tumor. It was really interesting seeing these MRI scans because the places where the tumors sat in the brain were different for each patient. In each case, Dr. Cobbs would explain to us how he was going to take out a tumor and told us which places he had to be extremely careful of so that the patient would not be impaired in some way when he or she woke up after the surgery was finished. Dr. Cobbs then went in the OR room, where we observed the surgeries. After each surgery was finished, Dr. Cobbs went to the lobby and explained to the patient’s family about how the surgery went. It was really inspiring seeing Dr. Cobbs in the surgery room for these two days, and this experience was unforgettable.
On the final day, Dr. Cobbs let us attend the 5th annual Swedish Neuroscience Institute Brain Anatomy course, where other doctors from around the country came in to talk about the specific surgeries they performed on their patients. This course was a really interesting experience, as I got to sit in a room with many other acclaimed doctors, and I learned about new types of surgeries that could be performed on the brain.
This Princeternship gave me such a wonderful opportunity, where I got to listen to lectures and observe surgeries. This experience has given me determination to stay on the pre-health track and go into the medical field in the future. I thank Dr. Charles Cobbs, his assistant Davida Pennington, and all the residents, nurses, and staff at the Swedish Neuroscience Department. Thank you for such an unforgettable experience!