Monday, June 8, 2009

Cape Program with Senior Karin English


When I think about the fact that I’m going to be a senior next year and what I’ll miss once I graduate there are many things that come to mind, but one stands out at the moment to me, the fact that I’ll never have another College summer. Life during the semester takes on such a pace that by the time summer comes around you realize that you have a whole year to reflect on, a whole summer ahead of you and another year to start getting excited for. It’s a chance to get to sit back and think (at least for a little while). It’s a chance to explore the world, relax at home, train and race with club teams, study at another university, participate in Duke Engage and the many other opportunities that Duke throws our way.
This summer I’ve been doing the CAPE program for premed female student athletes and a summer session class at night. To give you an idea of how action packed the summer is I’m going to describe one day last week – a typical Monday.
It’s 6.30 AM and the alarm goes off. I jump out of bed, I’ve timed the amount of time it takes me to get ready and ride to campus perfectly, so there isn’t a minute to lose. Once I get to campus I change into my work clothes in the bathroom and dab the sweat from my forehead – it’s 7.20 AM and already humid. By the time I make it to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit the staff are assembling to do rounds. We walk around the unit, talk about each patient and the doctor in charge tells me that it’s going to be a pretty boring morning. I head off to coffee with a med student in the PICU and learn about vital signs and how to read the monitors beside each patient’s bed. We meet for radiology rounds, where I’ll be in a few days. So far the morning is looking pretty quiet. However, a sick baby undergoing respiratory arrest comes into the PICU and a surgeon is called in to hook her up to ECMO – a machine that oxygenates blood. The whole procedure takes about an hour and I stand their watching the baby’s life being saved. In my time doing CAPE I’ve also seen the other side of medicine, so I savor this great feeling and ride the long way home to my apartment, down campus drive among the trees.
When I get home I head to the gym, time for some physical therapy exercises and a run. Then I squeeze in some reading, Freud on the Uncanny. I finish just in time to grab a ride with my roommate back to campus for our class, Fashion and the Avant Garde. It’s quite the combination, shadowing doctors in the hospital and then talking about philosophy and art for 2 hours three nights a week. Finally we make it home, which means time for dinner and reading for tomorrow’s class…
Not every day is quite this busy, but I don’t mind the days that are, because it’s impossible not to get a lot out of them. Every week for CAPE we meet with the other 8 women doing the internship and Terry Kruger. We discuss the experiences of the week, we learn to express our emotions by describing a special moment that week – for me it was the experience I just described, we present to each other on different diseases, we discuss issues in medicine and finally we learn about taking patient histories and doing patient exams in the Brain Tumor Centre. It’s a very special opportunity to get an inside look at what medicine is really like and a program that inspires young women to realize how big of a difference they can make.