WIMS Away Experience: Emily Applewhite at Pace Dermatology
A student interested in medicine discovers a possible career path
This past winter break, Occidental students participated in the Walk In My Shoes (Away) program, shadowing professionals at 29 sites in 6 states. Hosts provided participants with 2-3 days of career exposure to learn what they do, how they do it, and why. Students got a behind-the-scenes view of a profession and the opportunity to begin building a network within the field.
We’re showcasing a few students’ experiences with WIMS Away over the next few weeks. Emily Applewhite ’16 shares the story of her unexpected look into the world of dermatology in today’s entry.
For the past five years, whenever I was asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I was quick to reply “a doctor.” After spending a few days with my grandfather in the hospital I have been fascinated by the field of medicine. Since attending Oxy, my view of the world has expanded; I have grown passions in multiple areas, and have taken tough classes like Organic Chemistry. While I still have a large interest in medicine, my current ideas of what I want to do when I “grow up” changes daily. As I approach the deadline to declare a major, I have recently been feeling very anxious about my future career, and if medicine is the right field for me.
Over winter break, I had the privilege to shadow two incredible Dermatologists, Dr. Aaron Pace and Dr. Andrew Pace - brothers who are both Oxy graduates. Both doctors work at Pace Dermatology Associates, a private clinic started by Dr. Aaron Pace in July of 2011.
Before this opportunity, dermatology was never a medical field that I had considered, purely because I had not had much exposure to it. However, after spending three days shadowing these two dermatologists daily tasks, I learned so much about the field and now have a new excitement for medicine and very motivated to start the upcoming semester.
Within minutes of arriving at the clinic, I was thrown into the fast-paced day that both doctors encounter. The doctors interact with patients most of the day, and when they have a spare moment, they diligently work on their patient’s records. The doctors spend 10-20 minutes with each patient during an appointment, and one hour for a surgery. I had assumed that doctors only saw one or two patients an hour, because a typical doctor’s appointment from a patient’s perspective lasts from 30-60 minutes. Pace Dermatology Associates sees patients of all ages, and the variety of conditions that the doctors see is vast. This, combined with the fast paced atmosphere made it so that there was never a dull moment for the doctors (or for me).
I enjoyed learning more about dermatology and liked how visual the field is. Because the dermatology handles conditions of the skin, hair, and nails, most of the conditions can be seen clearly, making the results of treatments also visible. Something that surprised me about the clinic was how technology was integrated into every employee’s daily work. I had never previously considered that a physician would have to spend time in front of a computer, however as I mentioned earlier, the physicians recorded their patient’s records electronically. Medical assistants were able to take pictures of skin conditions and upload them into a patients file, and could mark where a condition was by using a virtual picture of a human on a tablet screen.
Despite the large number of patients that each doctor saw, both Dr. Aaron Pace and Dr. Andrew Pace were incredible at connecting with each patient on an individual level. They always tried to ask about patients’ wellness outside of the specific concerns of the appointment. I was amazed at both doctors ability to give their last patient of the day the same attention as their first, even after a 10-hour workday. This attentiveness and desire to connect with others meant that my hosts were very suited for their job, and I feel very lucky to have been able to shadow such talented physicians. While I still may not know exactly what I want to “be when I grow up,” this experience reinforced my passion for medicine and healthcare.
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