For the past four weeks I have been living in Pendleton, Oregon – a town known for its grand rodeos, wool factory, and nice people. I’m completing a rotation in women’s health with one of three full-time OB/Gyn doctors serving the better part of Umatilla county. This includes 11 communities outside of Pendleton yielding a population of roughly 35,000 women seeking medical care. As you might expect, the schedule is tireless. My preceptor and I split our time between three different facilities – the women’s clinic, the hospital and the surgery center.
I started out my first week learning the art of conducting a clean, straightforward annual exam. This entailed the awkward phase of learning how to hold a speculum properly, what language to use when explaining diagnoses to patients, and then of course, how to refine my assessment and plan. Now, twelve deliveries, 3 hysterectomies, 5 tubal ligations, 4 colposcopies, and too many prenatal visits and annual exams to count later, I have found myself comfortable and confident standing opposite my preceptor as first assist on an emergency cesarean section in the OR. My rapid transition has been largely due to the endless patience and strict guidance of my preceptor and her patients. The experiences we have shared have empowered me and allowed me to redefine my own expectations.
As I wheeled a patient out of the OR today, I watched her greet her husband and embrace her new baby girl. The joy was palpable and resonated deep within me. All my long nights on call, patient charting, phone calls, studying, suturing, knotting, and repeating it in my sleep have lead up to this poignant moment where I can say I was a part of bringing new life into the world. For this opportunity, I am truly grateful.