This past summer I had the privilege of interning for an orthopedic surgery center, where I learned the ins and outs of center in terms of their medical and business operations. Being able to have a holistic view of the orthopedic process before, during, and after surgery was very eye-opening. Working at the reception desk at the surgery center, I realized what a crucial role I played in making sure patients felt calm and secure prior to surgery. For any family or friends who came to support the patients before and after their surgery, I was the one who eased their anxieties and answered their questions, and I understood the importance of empathizing with their concerns.
I had never had any previous shadowing experience before, so I didn’t really know what to expect. But I did not expect to watch an open reduction and internal fixation procedure with “Allstar” by Smash Mouth playing on the speakers in the background. During my first surgical observation, I was shocked to find out that it wasn’t the blood or exposed bone and muscle tissue that freaked me out, but rather the lack of airflow and humidity involved in wearing a surgical mask that made me feel like I couldn’t breathe properly.
Although I am not a business student, nor have I ever had an interest in insurance, billing, or accounting, I learned to appreciate the importance of understanding the payment management system that is often overlooked by healthcare professionals. An operation itself is very draining and stressful, but so are the conflicting insurance claims and thousands of dollars in medical bills.
My favorite thing about the internship was my ability to shadow some of the best orthopedic surgeons in the state, as well as their supporting technicians, nurses, and physician assistants. For anyone interested in entering the medical and healthcare fields, not only is shadowing often needed as an application requirement for many programs, but it is vital to understanding the day to day reality of any position. Students should strive to not only see shadowing as an acceptance requirement, but also as a learning opportunity to determine the right path for their future, as sometimes you don’t realize the plethora of opportunities, specializations, and niches in the world as an undergrad.