by Anitvir Taunque
The TAP Health program, much like the rest of the world, has pivoted during the pandemic to present virtual opportunities for its participants. TAP MD student and aspiring surgeon Anitvir Taunque shares his reflection on the first virtual surgery he attended through the program, WHEN ST. ELIZABETH HEALTHCARE INVITED THE REGION TO WATCH AN INNOVATIVE SHOULDER SURGERY:
Watching a live surgery has been a dream of mine for a long time now.
As an aspiring surgeon, such an experience is simply the gold standard as it highlights every detail of my dream career: the environment of the operating theater, the collaboration between the different specialists, and being able to see anatomical structures first-hand. In addition to the other numerous benefits of TAP MD, being able to witness a live surgery was perhaps what really drew me into this program. Thus, when the live surgery was cancelled earlier this year due to the pandemic, I was really disappointed.
Last week, when I received word of this virtual live surgery through St. Elizabeth, I felt a mix of emotions; on one hand, I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to view a surgery; on the other hand, I felt that a virtual surgery wouldn’t be able to replicate that same environment, that same atmosphere, of the operating theater. I was wrong.
Dr. Griewe, the head orthopedic surgeon, did an absolutely phenomenal job walking all of the viewers through each and every step of the shoulder replacement surgery. Coincidentally, during this past summer, I was able to take Anatomy and Physiology. As a result, it was so great to be able to see those same anatomical structures first hand: Teres Minor, Deltoid, Humeral Head, etc. Through Dr. Griewe’s explanations, I was able to attentively follow along and understand the majority of what was going on.
For instance, we learned the reason behind a posterior approach instead of the traditional anterior approach to this surgery; by avoiding cutting through the rotator cuff, recovery times are decreased by 2-3 months. For the information that flew over my head, Dr. Griewe was able to clarify through his interactive viewer Q&A sessions. I was also able to witness the collaboration between the various specialists in the room and got glimpses of their distinct tasks. For instance, I was able to watch the anesthesiologist and the team intubate the patient and put him to sleep.
This virtual surgery was perhaps one of the most interesting and best experiences for me this year. I was able to take my knowledge from the classroom and witness it being applied in the operating theater. The way this event was set up really accentuated the subtleties involved in surgery and allowed me to get exposure to the field of surgery. I was also able to observe surgical techniques in action. I am so glad I was able to utilize the opportunity to view this surgery and it turned out to be great. I was definitely nervous going into it but realized that it completely exceeded my expectations in every way possible.