I am thinking about starting a new series on my blog about the shadowing experiences I take part in throughout my pre-clerkship in medical school. This is something that will share with you my experiences, thoughts, and feelings about my shadowing opportunities. I think this will be a cool way for you guys to learn about the different specialties in medicine, as well as follow my journey through medicine as a medical student. I am also excited to look back on these experiences in the future, and see how my opinion has changed!
Shadowing Experience #1: Labour and Delivery Night Call
Last week I shadowed a third year OBGYN resident during her overnight call on the labour and delivery ward. This experience really opened my eyes to how special the OBGYN specialty really is, as well as how beautiful it is to experience the birthing process with excited families. My experience was interesting to say the very least, and I learned so much about obstetrical medicine.
My shadowing experience started off at 5pm after my case based learning session at the hospital. I quickly changed out of my regular clothes into the hospital’s pale blue scrubs. I now looked like I belonged and I blended in with the nurses, clerks, residents, and staff physicians. Even though I looked the part, my wide eyes and flustered appearance clearly pointed to the fact that I was indeed a first year medical student. When I met with my resident, she told me that she also had a third year clerk working with her. I instantly felt relieved because I now knew that all the “pimping” would be directed towards the clerk and not me. I was also really excited to chat with the clerk about his experience thus far and what being a clerk was all about.
The three of us immediately began seeing the patients in triage. We checked on all the pregnant mothers and tended to their needs. Most of the mothers were either induced into labour or waiting to be induced. I learned about induction of labour, as well as the different ways mothers can be induced, including the pharmacological and mechanical methods typically used.
After checking out triage, we headed off to an emergency c-section taking place in the OR. I got to scrub in and watch the entire procedure. I was so intrigued by the entire process. I had never seen a c-section before, and I did not realize how long it took from start to finish. Getting the baby out seemed to be the easy part, however ensuring that the mother was no longer bleeding and closed up effectively was the long part. It was really cool to see how the whole healthcare team came together during the procedure. There was an anesthesiologist, a paediatrician, medical students, a team of nurses, and of course the obstetricians who were operating.
Following the c-section, we visited some more mothers in triage. We did some ultrasounds to check fetal positioning in the uterus, we listened to the fetal heart rate, and we also checked to see how dilated the cervix was in many mothers. We had another pregnant mother who opted for an elective c-section due to unfavourable fetal positioning in her uterus. So, once again, we headed to the OR to do preform another c-section. Again, I was able to scrub in and watch the entire thing from start to finish. This time, a family physician who also specialized in maternity care was observing the c-section. She stood with me and explained the entire procedure so that I could follow along. Her explanation was incredibly helpful and allowed me to appreciate the experience even more.
It was now about 10pm, and we were still seeing patients back to back. Dinner was definitely not a “now” priority, but we quickly stopped for a coffee for a pick me up. We would jump from the triage to birthing suites to mothers who had already given birth but were still recovering. We saw a few cases of mothers with pre-eclampsia, and many of the mothers in the birthing suites were still in the 1st stage of labour (contractions but not fully dilated). The waiting game continued, and the ward was quiet for a moment.
While the labouring mothers were still in the 1st stage of labour, the resident and I ordered some dinner. As we waited for our food to be delivered to the hospital, we went to the ER for a patient consult. The patient consult was super quick, and we headed to check on some post-op gyne patients. After we completed our rounds, we headed back to eat our well-deserved dinner.
By 12:30am many of the mothers were almost ready to start pushing! Finally, the time would come where I would get to witness my first vaginal delivery, a very exciting moment for a medical student! However, it was almost as if that very first delivery set off a chain reaction because it seemed as though everyone was delivering their babies back to back! I got to see six or seven vaginal deliveries that night. My shadowing experience ended at 7:30am the next morning following our last delivery! A full 15 hours of medicine! I was exhausted to say the least. However, the post-shadowing dark under-eye circles and chronic yawning (LOL) were definitely worth it!
It was so interesting to see how amazing the female body truly is, and how it transforms to welcome a new life into the world. It was also so amazing to see how the healthcare team coaches, encourages, and supports the mothers through the delivery process. It was such a beautiful thing to watch and be a part of.
Overall, I would definitely give this experience two thumbs up! It was an eventful night full of commotion and excitement. I would definitely shadow labour and delivery again! My next shadowing experience is paediatrics! Stay tuned to hear all about it!
If you liked this post and want me to continue this series, comment below or connect with me on social media!
The Girly MD (to be)