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What it’s like Shadowing a Physician in a Pandemic

As a second year pre-med student, shadowing during the pandemic was a difficult decision to make as many clinics (understandably) wanted as few people as possible. For my university’s program, I wanted to gain exposure and further insight for what it was like to become a physician and certify my decision to have a career in healthcare. I started shadowing at a family practice in Chicagoland each Friday since November 2020.

On Friday mornings, I usually unwind from my film philosophy class. Usually these mornings start with homemade coffee and taking notes on my laptop. Around late morning I get ready to shadow and grab my notebook with me on the way out with my great companion the N95 with me of course. 

Many times patients cancel due to fear of Covid-19 and opt for an online appointment that I’m only allowed into with consent of the patient of course. Family medicine is particularly interesting as it allows you to see the excitement of everyday appointments and to see a diverse amount of patients with concerns ranging from everyday health to something more serious. 

[bf_image id="xnxbv9rp4vb7fc7ff3nzt8rg"] Fridays are usually the busiest at noon and begin to slow down around the evening. There is a Covid-19 testing site above the clinic and many patients opt for online Zoom appointments to go over their results — practicing medicine virtually is certainly different than real life appointments that we’re used to, but in the best interest of social distancing and not cancelling an appointment in its entirety, patients prefer online visits. However, many people still come to visit in person to discuss lab results or review their yearly physical.

Seeing how Covid-19 has transformed many patients' lives, sometimes for the better but most times  for the worst, is what makes family medicine so important. Whether it’s managing chronic illness, diagnosing new or emerging conditions or helping patients maintain their physical and mental health during an unusual 2020 and 2021. 

I look forward to continue shadowing this year with this physician who has been practicing for over 20 years and has worked on public health projects in the past with our county. She always has the best interest for her patients and constantly demonstrates compassion, empathy, and friendliness which all play a large relationship in developing trust and a bond between a physician and their patient. I have learned so much already in these past couple months about the role of a physician in a patient’s life and how great their impact can be. 

[bf_image id="p8h57fshn3phx8mhvr988h"] Although Covid-19 has certainly made doctor’s trips and society a whole lot different from what we’re used to, I’m very grateful that I had the unparalleled opportunity to shadow in a clinic during a pandemic. 

Maha was born in Chicago and raised in the suburbs, she is a second year student studying neuroscience and screenwriting. She is a libra and she enjoys singing, dancing, and watching sci-fi movies and TV shows in her free time. She is the marketing and outreach coordinator at HerCampus DePaul, the vice president of her university's Nu Rho Psi chapter, and the founder and president of DePaul Public Health Club.
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