November 8, 2010
Summer at the Mayo Clinic
By Fahd Jowhari
This past summer, I had the amazing opportunity of spending two weeks at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota for my summer elective. As part of the medical program here at the University of Calgary, we have the opportunity of doing our electives in a chosen area of interest right in our first year, and so I decided to explore the area of cardiothoracic surgery. My elective was partially supported by the International Studentship awarded to me by the Centre for International Students and Study Abroad (CISSA).
While extremely thrilled at the chance to spend two weeks at this world-class institution, I also started to get a little nervous in anticipation. My preceptor for the elective was Dr. Rakesh Suri—a renowned cardiac surgeon at the Mayo Clinic. Dr. Suri and his team of nurses and assistants were all very nice and welcoming. They showed me around and I had no problems at all familiarizing myself with the entire cardiac surgery department.
Over the course of my elective, I observed close to 20 cardiothoracic surgeries some of which included: coronary artery bypasses, valve replacements, valve repairs, a maze procedure, a David procedure, a ventricular assist device implantation and an aortic aneurysm repair.
The highlight for me was observing the minimally invasive robot-assisted mitral valve repair surgery, in which Dr. Suri and his team are world experts. This is a surgery where the surgeon operates from a remote video console, where his hand movements are translated to the robotic arms at the operating table. A second surgeon and the surgical team assist with changing surgical instruments attached to the robotic arms. The patient is extubated right in the operating room and some even regain consciousness while on their way to the ward.
Overall my trip to the Mayo Clinic was an amazing experience. I learned a lot and was really impressed by the professionalism shown by the physicians at Mayo. While some aspects of the clinic, such as the availability of a personalized gourmet chef, or a kitchen in some rooms, was a little unusual to expect at a hospital, I guess if visitors like the king of Saudi Arabia frequent the clinic, amenities like these might hold some relevance.
My goal of this elective was to explore as much as I could about ‘living’ the field of cardiothoracic surgery and I guess, for the most part, I accomplished it. I came back after two weeks and bought a Tim Horton’s coffee at the airport. Dunkin' Donuts might claim to be an all-time American favourite, but for us Canadians, it’s all about Tim Horton’s coffee.