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The Oregon Society of Anesthesiologists sponsored scholarships for five students who identify as underrepresented minorities in medicine to each spend a week shadowing anesthesiologists this summer. This opportunity was coordinated by a new nonprofit called MedStaircase, which was founded by our own Immediate Past President, Kate Ropp. Here are their stories:

Robi Tesema

Robi Tesema is 20 years old and a third-year student at Oregon State University. She was born in Ethiopia and moved to the US in 2010 along with her parents. 

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I spent the week of July 5th with Dr. Ropp and Dr. Hotchkiss. When I initially read the email that I was going to be shadowing anesthesiologists, I thought to myself, don’t they just put patients to sleep? I clearly had a lot more to learn about them and I definitely did. Throughout my five days at Legacy Emanuel, I saw various procedures such as C-Sections, eye and ortho surgeries. I was intrigued by how the whole team comes together by performing their individual jobs which ensures that it’s as smooth a procedure as possible.


I was able to see that anesthesiologists do more than just put people to sleep. They meet withthe patient and their family prior to the surgery, ask and answer questions, comfort the patient when they are feeling nervous, monitor their vitals, provide various medications and so much more. Through this experience, I was able to experience a profession that I didn’t even know much about. I also had several conversations with the doctors about working abroad and what that looks like. I’m really appreciative of this opportunity. I was surrounded by people like Dr. Ropp, Dr. Hotchkiss, and Dr. Jaworski who not only answered my many questions but also made me feel welcome and comfortable. I look forward to checking in with them in the future and letting them know where I am in my career journey. They’re cool people.

Ruben Sanchez 

Ruben Sanchez is a senior at the University of Oregon majoring in Biochemistry and Biology. After undergrad, he hopes to attend medical school to serve underrepresented communities during a time of vulnerability and use his skills to help them reach a better state. He also wants to educate and advocate for underrepresented communities and become a resource for future POC students who wish to pursue medicine as a career. 

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Observing an anesthesiologist like Dr. Patel during my week at the Northwest Ambulatory Surgery Center definitely fortified my aspiration to attend medical school. I was able to see how an anesthesiologist was able to control the physiology of a patient in order to minimize the body’s responses to powerful stimuli. It was a privilege to be able to witness the training and the knowledge behind every movement that Dr. Patel made. To me, it seemed as if even the way that the medication drawer was opened had a certain science to it as every act that the anesthesiologist made was beautifully choreographed. This experience invested in my intellectual curiosity of the human body and made me realize that medicine is truly my passion.


This program also allowed me to witness the human behind every physician. I was able to witness an anesthesiologist calm down a patient who was terrified of the OR. I had an amazing conversation with another anesthesiologist who shared their opinions about healthcare and connected me with organizations that mirrored my beliefs. But most importantly, I was able to connect with a physician who is a first-generation immigrant like myself. A physician who gave my great advice and really motivated me to continue this long but rewarding road.


I would like to thank the Oregon Society of Anesthesiologists for funding my scholarship. This scholarship allowed me to make valuable connections and immersed me into a specialty that has made me ecstatic to commence my journey to medicine. 

Jennie Link 

Jennie Link is a recent graduate from Oregon State University where she received a B.S. in BioHealth Sciences and a minor in Studio Art. She is currently pursuing employment in the medical field to obtain first hand experience before returning to school for an advanced degree.

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The Clinical Experience Scholarship was the perfect opportunity to get a glimpse into life inside the operating room. During my time shadowing anesthesiology and surgery, I saw a variety of surgery cases ranging from burn treatments to laparoscopies. One question I had coming into the scholarship was how would I react to seeing an operation done on a live person, and while I was fine with this aspect, I got to see first-hand how emotionally difficult some of these operations can be. That said, there was something in each case that was fascinating to me. A few of my favorites were open heart surgery, scoliosis correction, burn treatment, and electrocautery for endometriosis. This opportunity has confirmed for me that the operating room is a place I’d want to be and has shown me the hidden gem of anesthesiology.

Besides anesthetizing and the surgeries themselves, it was also helpful to observe the dynamics of a healthcare team. As someone who is still deciding where in healthcare I want to be, it was very useful to see each team members' role, personality traits, and responsibilities. The scholarship also presented the opportunity to have short, informal conversations about the work people do. I got to hear people's perspectives and reflections on their specialties and about healthcare work in general, both of which are extremely valuable.

I am extremely grateful to Dr. Ropp and all the wonderful people I met at Legacy Emanuel. It was a wonderful opportunity and provided valuable perspectives, hands-on experience, and many memories.


Sophia Garcia
 

Sophia Garcia is an Oregon native from Roseburg, Oregon, and a graduate of Umpqua Community College prior to her transfer to Oregon State University. At OSU, she is pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Biology with an option in pre-medicine, and she also represents the Minority Association of Pre-Medicine Students (MAPS) club as vice-president.

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Going into my shadowing week I had never really considered anesthesiology as a specialty, but I have to say it definitely grew on me. I really cherished the opportunity to get a taste of what a career in medicine looks like day to day, and it helped to give me more confidence in my choice to pursue medicine and to continue to diversify my experiences. I also want to add that I am incredibly grateful to the sponsors from the Oregon Society of Anesthesiologists that provide experiences like this to pre-med students. It means a lot to see people so invested in lifting up folks early in their journeys, and it's humbling to have been chosen for an opportunity like the one I was given. I'm excited to continue to explore!


Ricardo Mendoza Escobedo

Ricardo Mendoza Escobedo is a Kinesiology student with a premed option at Oregon State University. He is from the small town of Boardman, Oregon. His goal is to become a practicing physician and serve the medical needs of the underserved rural populations of Oregon. 

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My time with the MedStaircase program was definitely an incredible experience! From the first minute to the last, everyone I encountered was very welcoming and did not hesitate to answer any questions I had and explain what was happening during the operations. Seeing the interaction between the anesthesiologists and patients was something that I found to be truly inspiring.

When working with the pediatric patients, it was heartwarming to see them put the worry of the children and their parents at ease and reassure them that they were in good hands.
The highlight of the experience was getting the opportunity to be in the operating room to observe a coronary artery bypass graft! Seeing the amount of preparation that an anesthesiologist must do before an operation like this really showed me the breadth and depth of the specialty. It was also really cool to see patients get intubated through the view of the laryngoscope.

Prior to this experience, my knowledge of what an anesthesiologist does was very vague, but I now possess a much better understanding of their role in a patient's care. Thank you to all of the wonderful doctors that I had the privilege of meeting, the Oregon Society of Anesthesiologists, and MedStaircase for providing me with this incredible opportunity!