Elective Time in the NICU

For second year, we have to do 2 credit hours’ worth of elective time. The trip to Ecuador could have counted as my elective time, but since I didn’t get to go (which turned out to be a blessing, since the Ladybug made her entrance during the trip’s two-week timeframe), and since I didn’t want to take time away from my family during the school year by volunteering at the student-run clinics, I had to find something else that would count toward this requirement. One of our options was to do Career Exploration. We could do 24 hours with one physician for 2 credits, or split the time between two fields, 12 hours each. That choice was pretty simple; since I didn’t get to do my Pediatrics Externship in the NICU, I asked my Advisory Dean, Dr. T, if I could do my hours with her. I love getting to go into the NICU with Dr. T. We’ve had a ton of patients, I’ve answered lots of “pimping” questions (and learned this: being “pimped” means being Put In My Place… didn’t know that’s what it actually stood for!), and I’ve learned a lot not only about medicine, but about how to select a residency, things to consider for fellowships and employment… lots of stuff. I’ve listened to lots of murmurs, seen some really fascinating computer-generated models of heart conditions, and learned about rare genetic conditions.I tend to take awhile when I listen for murmurs, in attempts to hone my (limited) skills, and I’m always glad that Dr. T lets me take my time.

One morning, we even got to travel to another hospital on a consult for possible Down Syndrome/Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Another morning, we were doing well-baby exams in the regular newborn nursery (in the same hospital where I had Ladybug) when we got a page to L&D for a premature (36 weeks) delivery. This was the first time I’d been in L&D since I was a patient nearly a year ago. Dr. T had me gown up, and as I slip on my gloves, she turns to me and says, “When they bring him over, clean him off, suction him, figure out his apgar’s, and help with length and weight.”

“Ok.” No need to tell me twice.

And it was amazing. A big, healthy boy with wrinkling skin indicative of a gestation longer than 36 weeks. The dad was brimming with pride as we examined his boy.

On the next shadowing day, we got another page to L&D, this time to the OR. Twins! Incredible. OB is on my shortlist of career options, second to pediatrics, but I’ve gotta say, I was glad to be with the team that went with the babies.


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