Spotlight: Praveen Satarasinghe

DSC_9311Name: Praveen Satarasinghe
Major: Plan II Honors and Biology
HCMP Role: Co-Preceptor Coordinator, J-board
Classification: Junior
Associations: Senate of College Councils, Research Student Advisory Committee, TIP Mentor, Plan II Pre-Med Society, Pierce-Shimomura Lab

Describe a shadowing experience that has impacted you the most.

Shadowing cardiothoracic surgeons Dr. Felger and Dr. Kirkland during an aortic repair/cardiac bypass open-heart surgery was truly amazing. From the minute I stepped into the cold OR, I was immediately swarmed by 8 white-coats. Everyone had a very specific role. Two anesthesiologists, a doctor in charge of the heart-lung machine, three nurses, and the two surgeons. Instead of having to stand off to the side, Dr. Felger put me next to the anesthesiologists, about one foot away from the heart. The smell of burning flesh, the crunching sound of the saw against the rib-cage, and the flow of large quantities of blood through clear tubes was surreal and scary at the same time. Upon opening up the heart, I got to visualize five large aneurysms and a ruptured aorta. Watching Dr. Felger and Dr. Kirkland trust each other and work as a team to repair the aorta and carefully remove each aneurysm without harming the rest of the sensitive heart was life-changing. Before this surgery, I thought I was a technical individual. I had no idea what I was in for on this day. After getting to ask questions, spending 7 hours staring at the organ that provides us with life, and watching a patient’s heart stop and come back to life at the end of the surgery, I had a revelation. Because of this experience, my desire to become a surgeon is now no question to me.

How has HCMP benefited your professional or individual goals?

Networking with doctors has been one of my favorite parts of HCMP. Roughly half of the physicians I have shadowed, including surgeons, have personally given me their contact information and invited me to shadow them again in the future. In addition, many doctors have invited me to lunch and spent extensive time with me solidifying my interest to enter the medical field, as well as providing me details about applying to medical schools, residency, and establishing a path to enjoy my future life as a physician. These contacts and discussions have allowed me to learn a lot and form personal relationships with doctors who I know will help me out in the future.

What has been your favorite aspect of HCMP?

My favorite part of HCMP is definitely the ability for interns to shadow any physician specialty. I personally have focused on shadowing as many surgeons as possible. Before joining HCMP, I had instilled in my mind that I wanted to be a surgeon. The ability to shadow different surgeons has strengthened my desire to be a surgeon and has, more specifically, influenced my interest in neurosurgery, specifically. Without the ability to pick and choose physicians, I would not have gained first-hand experience with surgery specialties that I would really like to go into in the future.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I really enjoy doing anything outdoors. I enjoy hiking, biking, swimming, camping, and anything that causes me to break a sweat. When I am not studying, I enjoy hanging out with friends, playing any sport, and free-styling on the drums and piano.