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  • Writer's pictureThe Rivers School

Grace Brosnan '23: Boston Medical Center

This summer, I've had the unique opportunity to shadow Dr. Stein, a hand and upper extremity orthopaedic surgeon, and his team at Boston Medical Center. Over several weeks, I was fortunate to see various cases in the operating room, clinic, and emergency room.

Boston Medical Hospital is a teaching hospital out of Boston University. As Robert A. Brown, president of BU, described, "BMC is a superb academic medical center and the city's most important safety-net hospital." The BMC team works tirelessly to provide exceptional care for patients regardless of their socioeconomic standings, making it one of Boston's most vital resources. It was interesting to observe how Dr. Stein and his team not only treated the patient's symptoms but also listened to their struggles with addiction, housing, or lack of resources. Seeing how patients dealt with medical woes on top of their preexisting burdens was eye-opening. Dr. Stein's team was compassionate and always considered the patient's outside lives to create effective care plans.

My typical day began with morning rounds on Zoom, where residents would present patient materials, review their status from the night before, and discuss the care plan moving forward. BMC's status as a level I trauma center often lends itself to fascinating, distinctive cases.

Dr. Stein is in the clinic on Mondays and Wednesdays, where he sees around 60-70 patients daily. Dr. Stein saw a range of cases of arthritis, carpal tunnel, and more. The team would run tests, examine the patient, and ask about symptoms to come to a diagnosis. Dr. Stein told me that one usually suspects a diagnosis from the patient's history, and the exam confirms it. I was fortunate enough to shadow physicians assistants, medical students, residents, and Dr. Stein to see how different parts of the team all contribute to treating patients.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Dr. Stein operates. Although I am a student, I was able to assist in the OR increasingly every day. I would help the medical students clean the patient, create splints after surgery, and help gown Dr. Stein and his team after they scrubbed in. I was lucky enough to learn how to scrub for surgery from Tom, one of the circulating nurses whom I spent time with this summer. Scrubbing-in allowed me to see surgeries much closer and help the surgeons cut sutures after tying them off. Typical scrubbing includes standard blue scrubs, scrub cap, eyewear, a sterile surgical gown, and two layers of sterile gloves.

Although Dr. Stein operates on the hand and upper extremity, his fellow surgeons were kind enough to let me observe some of their cases. I saw cervical spine, knee, hip, urology, and shoulder surgery. One of my favorite cases was with Dr. Li, a sports medicine doctor. This surgery included a ligament repair, a bone-cartilage graft, and a bone graft 'wedge' in the femur to correct the patient's valgus deformity ('knocked knees'). A special thank you to Dr. Li and his team for taking the time to educate me on such a complex procedure.

I was also lucky enough to follow one of the orthopaedic surgery residents, Francesca (PGY-2), through her hectic day as the 'consult orthopaedic resident.' As the consult resident, she would be the doctor responding to various departments when they needed an orthopaedic surgeon's opinion on a case. Most memorably, I met a family whose infant had an extra digit. It was incredible seeing Francesca and one of Dr. Stein's colleagues, Dr. Duene, reassure the parents and remove the extra digit. Other cases that day included a car accident victim, open wounds from drug use, and a simple sprained wrist. I appreciate how Francesca took the time out of her full day to teach me, which was a common thread with every BMC orthopaedic resident I worked with.

I am profoundly grateful for my time at Boston Medical Center with Dr. Stein. I have learned invaluable information that I will employ on my personal journey to pursue medicine. I am deeply thankful for Dr. Stein's guidance this summer and for how welcoming his team was. This experience wouldn't have been as impactful without Dr. Stein's chief resident, Zach, medical students, Marissa and Patrick, who all added to such an incredible, educational experience. Words cannot express how moving this summer was. Mr. Schlenker, thank you for such an extraordinary opportunity.

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