A Student Diary:
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I was asked to write about my experience as a perfusion student. I am posting a perfusion diary relating that experience from beginning to end. I have chosen to stay anonymous and any people, schools or groups I talk about shall also remain anonymous. I am treating this more like a diary or blog than a book, so I am just going to write when I have something to say. I am going to try to have an entry at least once every 2 weeks once I begin school, but hopefully more often than that. I have been accepted to two perfusion schools and will start at one of them in August 2011.
I come from a strong medical family. My father is a surgeon and my mother a registered nurse. I grew up listening to my Dad talk with nurses about a patients last BM on the phone and got used to medical lingo at a young age. I commonly went on rounds with my Dad and could easily rank the doctors lounges at the different hospitals he worked at.
However, as most medical families know, life is very hectic and there is not a lot of true family time. If my Dad was not operating he was working on charts, if he was not working on charts he was sleeping. He was and is a very busy surgeon with his own private practice. It seems like I could go a week without seeing him at times and is one of the reasons I never chose to pursue a life of a doctor. The other reasons being I didn’t have the grades and/or determination to try to make a 4 point for med school. I have never wanted to be a doctor and am happy with finding my true passion, perfusion.
When it came to my schooling I have always been an average public school guy. I did have a brief one year stint at a private school in junior high, but other than that stuck to public school. My parents were always worrying about my grades and I used several tutoring sources. I don’t believe I needed the tutoring help, but I did it without too much of a fight. I have been diagnosed with ADHD ever since I can remember.
I started going to a psychiatrist when I was very young and worked with him for years to find the proper treatment which was medication for me. I still use the medication some of the time, but have become much less reliant on it since I began college. Like I was saying before, I have always been nothing special in the classroom, graduating high school with I think a 3.25 and college with a 3.3 GPA. Those grades are certainly nothing bad, but nothing too spectacular for the medical world. I graduated from a major state institution with a BS in Exercise and Sports Sciences.
A Medical Career?
I began college with the intent of becoming a physical therapist. I had been in and out of physical therapy throughout high school and developed a passion for the profession. I continued to strive to become a physical therapist until late in my junior year when I realized becoming a PT was almost unattainable without a much higher GPA and then a few more things going my way. They also had just made PT programs in doctorate programs and I don’t find it worth it to get a doctorate. The pay is only dropping and paperwork increasing like most of medicine. Thankfully I had the opportunity to work as a PT tech at an outpatient facility and realized that this profession wasn’t for me before it was too late.
I then began looking for a different profession. I then came to physician assistant. I jumped right in and started shadowing an orthopedic PA and loved it. I followed this PA on rounds, in clinic and in surgery. I was very interested in being a PA, but at the same time wasn’t sure it was 100% what I wanted to do. My mom loves researching anything and so I started to talk to her about what else was out there. It didn’t too long before she came onto perfusion and sent me an email with some information about the profession and some of the schools.
A Field called “Perfusion”
I was very interested as cardiovascular anatomy and orthopedics were my two primary interests. From what I could see perfusion would give me more than my fill in the cardiovascular world and so I chose to try and shadow a perfusionist. Where I went to college there is the university hospital and then a big healthcare group with several hospitals and then a physician owned heart hospital. As most people know, no one knows what perfusion is unless you work with a perfusionist or you know one. It turned out to be a challenge and I wound up emailing a nurse recruiter at the big healthcare groups hospitals and got a great response. The recruiter called the chief of perfusion for the area and then gave me his information. The chief of perfusion for the area works for a big group and works in three different hospitals. He has been a perfusionist for quite some time and very good at what he does.
I chose to call him pretty much as soon as I got his information and set up a time to come in and shadow. I was still in college at this point, but would try and shadow as much as possible. I still remember my first case was a patient that had been care flighted from another state and had been having an MI for about 10 hours. The guy did not have a great chance, but proved to be an action packed first taste of perfusion and made my mind up pretty quickly about perfusion. From everything I saw in my first case I was pretty much hooked from the beginning.
The reason I think I enjoy perfusion is for a couple reasons. The first reason is the most obvious, I have not really been all that exposed to the cons of the profession. The other reasons would be the cardiovascular aspects, perfectionist friendly and the mechanical aspects. Like I have mentioned before I very much enjoy cardiovascular anatomy and physiology and this was plenty of that. I have always been a bit OCD or a perfectionist. This does not mean that I freak out when something is not in the right spot it should be at, but that I like doing it the right way and to the best of my ability each time.
Like my Dad says, “Doing something halfass is just a waste of time.” Perfusion gives someone like me the right amount of OCD with being very particular about timing and amounts of meds to give, everyone reading knows what I am talking about more than likely. However, the mechanical aspect of the circuit is what sealed the deal for me. During the first case I was surprised how much putting together, priming and actual mechanical work there was to it. I did not really grasp that from anything I had read and it sure helped me realize how much of perfusion was mechanical. I could go on with examples of why I like perfusion and have chosen it for a career path, but I am just going to move on to my shadowing experience.
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