Lessons from Shadowing at UT Southwestern - You'll Always Remember Your First

by Sunny Varshney, MS2

I’ve had the opportunity to shadow a wide variety of specialists during my time at UTSW. In this series I’ll highlight some experiences that stand out and lessons I learned from them.

#1 You’ll Always Remember Your First…

Time: 6:30 a.m., June 2007

Place: Operating Room, Parkland Simmons Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC)

I remember this day vividly—the first time I ever…scrubbed in.

I was a research fellow in the world-renowned UTSW Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. My mentor’s assistant had emailed me his schedule and told me to be where he was whenever I could. I showed up nervous and excited on a Monday morning for the first case of the summer.

To my surprise, when I parked outside the building I saw dozens of nurses, doctors, and patients in the parking lot. The fire alarm was blaring, echoing off the medical center buildings. Things were already off to a crazy start.

After a brief intro with my mentor, he immediately started teaching me the proper technique for scrubbing into an operating room—in a parking lot, at 6:45 a.m., during a fire drill. “It’s going to be great having an extra set of hands in the OR,” he told me.

Needless to say, that summer turned out to be one of the most rewarding, enjoyable experiences of my life.  I scrubbed into dozens of cases every week, shadowed in the clinic, attended resident conferences, and completed my own research project from inception to publication in three months. Amazing.

Lessons learned:

1. The faculty members at UTSW are committed. They are committed to their field, to their patients, and to their trainees.

2. If you’re waking up at 5 a.m. every day during your summer off and genuinely enjoying it, you’re doing something you really love.

3.  You may come into a situation a blindfish, but if you have the right people around you and a positive, dedicated mindset, you will come out with more knowledge and experience than you ever thought possible. This will amaze you and those around you.