Shelby: Hey, guys! It is really early in the morning and we are heading to high school student Susana Im’s house. She wants to be a surgeon, so we want to show her what a day in the life of a surgeon is like. But the thing is, we are going to surprise her, and she doesn’t know what type of surgery we are gonna go see.
Hi! I am Shelby.
Susana: It’s nice to meet you.
Shelby: We are so excited to show you the life of a surgeon. Are you ready? Are you awake?
Shelby: Let’s go!
We are on our way to the Hackensack Medical Center in New Jersey to meet Dr. Leonard Lee who will perform the operation.
Dr. Leonard Lee: How are you? Nice to meet you.
Shelby: Hi. I am Shelby. Nice to meet you.
Dr. Lee: So, I’m going to take you inside, and I’ll introduce you to the patient.
Mr. Conti, this is Susana. She is going to be watching today.
Dr. Lee: She is a high school student who is very interested in going into medicine. So she’s going to come in and watch your procedure today. Alright. So we’ll get going into the operating room in about five minutes or so, and we’ll see you in a bit.
Susana: Thank you so much.
Shelby: While Mr. Conti is given anesthesia, we got changed into scrubs, which reduce germs in the operating room. And to complete our medical makeover we put on hair nets and, later, surgical masks. You can’t go into the OR without them.
In case you can’t recognize him, that is Dr. Lee in the magnifying glasses getting washed up.
And then it was time to start the operation. We won’t show you everything because it is pretty graphic.
Dr. Lee: if you feel sick, sit down right where you are on the floor. Some people have passed out trying to get to a chair.
Shelby: But it is a good thing suzanna isn’t squeamish because she has a front row seat.
Dr. Lee: So, Susanna, what we are doing now is we made an incision in the chest. So, we are going between the ribs. We aren’t breaking or removing ribs.
Shelby: Dr. Lee is fixing a valve in the patient’s heart that isn’t working. It is making him short of breath.
Dr. Lee: She is intentionally collapsing the right lung so the patient is only breathing through the left lung so that this gets out of my way.
Shelby: ,Three hours later the team is finished repairing Mr. Conti’s heart valve.
Okay. So, Susana, we are in the physician’s office out of surgery.
Susana: It was such a great experience!
Shelby: Great! Does it make you want to be a heart surgeon?
Susana: Actually, it does.
Shelby: So, what comes next for Susana? Experts say high school students who want to go into medicine should study chemistry, biology and physics. Then fulfill the pre-med requirements in college.
Dr. Lee: As far as college goes, get the best education you can, get the broadest education you can. Medical schools really like students who have their education in liberal arts but have their science backgound as well.
Shelby: When it comes time to apply for medical school?
Dr. Lee: Medical school is, go anywhere you can get in.
Shelby: After four years of college, heart surgeons like Dr. Lee spend another four years in medical school, and then up to nine years in residency and specialty training. Most medical students are almost $160,000 in debt when they graduate. But they are in a good position to pay back their loans. Heart surgeons earn between $250,000 and $600,000 a year.
Is Susana up for the hard work and the rewards?
Susana: Yeah. It actually really reinforced my decision. I could see myself in that environment. I could see myself in Dr. Lee’s position. And I actually want to.
Shelby: Great! Does it make you want to go study?
Shelby: I am so glad you enjoyed it. Such a great experience. You might have a heart surgeon protege.