ExternshipsStudent ContributorSummer Opportunities

Casey Eck ’18 @ Richmond Children’s Hospital at VCU

I completed my externship at the Richmond Children’s Hospital at VCU with Doctor David Marcello. He is a Pediatric Hospitalist who just recently returned to VCU where he had completed his residency. After only two days of shadowing Doctor Marcello, I learned that he is an incredible hospitalist, a knowledgeable pediatric doctor, and a respected teacher. In two days I watched him work to save lives, put countless smiles on children’s faces, and even win an award for being the best teacher in his department. I quickly realized it was an honor to be shadowing him.
I went in to my externship knowing that I want a career in medicine and that I have a special interest in pediatrics. I was so excited to see what the Children’s Hospital at VCU and Doctor Marcello had to offer. Throughout my two busy days in the hospital I had a tour of the pediatric floor, I observed doctors working together to care for patients with extremely complicated cases; I learned about Doctor Marcello and his past, and I asked and heard answers to every question on my mind.

Dr. Marcello himself was incredible. The award he received in front of me was for being the best teacher in the entire department. Although he had just arrived in September, it was obvious how respected he was as a doctor and how valued his words were as a teacher. Every question I asked, he took the time to sit down, draw out diagrams, make connections to simpler ideas, or do whatever it took to be sure I understood on some level. It made me want to inquire about everything, just to listen to whatever brilliant thing he had to say next.

Over my two days I was able to observe children admitted to the pediatric floor, the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), and even the NICU with the newborn babies. I was able to understand the criteria for children being transferred from the ER to the floor, or the floor to the PICU, or vice versa. I was able to see how doctors handle different unexpected situations and patient situations from a 5 year old possible drug ingestion to a spinal tap on 7 –day- old infant. I got to see patients recover and get closer to heading home and patients who were struggling to make it through the night. I was satisfied with myself in that I was able to handle and feel comfortable in every situation I was presented with concerning patient care.

Although the direct patient care was an amazing experience, my favorite time was the time I spent with the medical students. They really made this experience feel real and attainable to me. The first day, I was able to watch them play jeopardy against all of the Attendings. Even though it was sort of a silly game, it was really cool to see how comfortable their relationships were with their superiors and also how much knowledge they already had! I sat with the medical students assigned to Dr. Marcello’s “team” of pediatric doctors a lot. I loved asking them questions about how they got to where they were and listening to them explain the responsibilities they were starting to be given. They had so much insight for me because they could remember being exactly where I was. One afternoon they spent an hour and a half drilling a pediatric cardiologist with questions from their textbooks and she took the time to draw diagrams and cleared up their confusion in several areas. I just sat in awe of the questions they were able to ask and every answer the cardiologist provided. It was incredible to see their excitement and desire to learn when they were able to present about a certain patient. It was especially cool because it allowed me to see myself exactly in that same position with the same excitement and desire.

This opportunity made me more confident and excited about my future. This opportunity only reinforced my desire for more information about pediatrics. Seeing the medical students in their every day environment solidified for me that that is were I want to be in three years. Seeing Doctor Marcello teach his students, save lives, and put a smile on kids faces made me absolutely positive that I am on the right path.