Shadowing knee replacements, fetal heartbeats

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Emma Huebner

Junior Henry Ashworth poses for a shot after job shadowing. Credit: Emma Huebner/The Foothill Dragon Press.
Junior Henry Ashworth poses for a shot after job shadowing. Credit: Emma Huebner/The Foothill Dragon Press.

As the school year is beginning to wind down, job shadows in Foothill’s BioScience Academy are just starting up.

This year, Cohort Six, or BioScience’s junior class, gets its turn to take part in shadow days at Ventura County Medical Center. Each BioScience junior will get the opportunity to shadow at least twice, in two different departments.

According to Wendi Butler, founder of the BioScience Academy, job shadows are a “key part” of the academy.

“It took five to six years to get this going,” Butler said. “In the end, it was Dr. John Fankhauser. He opened the doors wide for us when I wasn’t getting anywhere. He made it possible.”

Fankhauser is the medical director at VCMC. With his initiative, academy students began shadowing hospital staff in five different departments: Emergency, Medicine and Pediatrics, the Family Care Center, and the Clinical Lab.

Additional opportunities have opened up in Labor and Delivery. BioScience students witness live births three nights per week.

“Job Shadows make everything real,” Butler said.  “It allows you to almost experience you goal. It solidifies your goal.”

This was true for Patrick Bower who shadowed Dr. F. Ray Nickel and Physician Assistant Kari Odenath at Ventura Orthopedics.

“I was thinking about it [a career in orthopedic surgery] before, but this really influenced it,” Bower said. “It was a family environment. All the doctors were really close together.”

Bower witnessed a full knee replacement as well as patient visits with numerous diagnoses of muscle and bone injuries.

“You are a bit of a counselor as well as a doctor,” he said. “You diagnose life altering injuries.”

Caity Bishop was greatly influenced by her experience. Bishop shadowed Dr. Wong at the Family Care Center. Unlike Bower, she had not considered family practice as a potential career beforehand.

“I wasn’t interested before, but now I am,” Bishop said.

Bishop said that listening to the heartbeat of a 15-week-old fetus was the most impacting moment during her job shadow.

“Dr. Wong had a very interesting way of interacting with his patients,” she said. “And he doesn’t let language barriers get in the way.”

Bishop also saw elderly patients with a wide range of health problems, from high cholesterol to complications from a stroke.

“One lady lowered her cholesterol significantly, and he [Dr. Wong] was really excited about that,” Bishop said. Another woman brought in a cake and other goodies for the office staff.

Bishop liked the strong relationship between the doctor and patients, something that motivated her to pursue family practice.

“I think overall the students are really impacted by the professionalism of the staff,” Butler said.

Xander Rockney-Finger shadowed Dr. Mish Mizrahi during a surgery in which the doctor removed infected stitches from a previous operation on the abdomen. He also observed an appendectomy.

“When they didn’t cauterize the blood right away, it started boiling,” he said.

Rockney-Finger also shadowed Dr. Wong at the Family Care Center. Bishop is scheduled to observe a surgery on in a few weeks, and Bower’s next shadow will be in physical therapy.

Butler is excited to hear about all of her students’ experiences in the upcoming month.

“To see all of the science that we’ve talked about all these years in action…to interact with patients…the awesomeness about a birth, you don’t see life the same after.”

What do you think?