An Aspiring Surgeon’s ‘Life-Changing Experience’

By Taylor Bacon

Last September I became involved in the Mikva Challenge, a civic program that challenges high school students throughout Chicago to be active participants in the political process through elections, activism and policy-making programs. I had been a part of a couple of their projects when I was offered the opportunity to come to a gathering of local leaders. I met a number of fascinating people including Jaime Parent, vice president and associate chief information officer of Information Technology Operations at Rush University Medical Center. I mentioned my longstanding ambition to be a pediatric surgeon and he generously offered to set up a meeting between Dr. Ziyad Hijazi, one of the world’s premier interventional cardiologists, and me.

I can honestly say the meeting with Dr. Hijazi was one of the most fascinating hours of my life. We talked about different noninvasive procedures he had developed to fix holes in infants’ hearts using balloon-expandable stents. One of the remarkable things about Dr. Hijazi is his ability to explain complicated medical procedures. I noticed this talent in the meeting and later when I had the unbelievable opportunity to shadow him for a week. During consultations with patients, he would explain the procedure they would undergo in such calm and confident way that I rarely saw anyone become anxious at the prospect of heart surgery.

I also had the life-changing experience of being allowed in the operating room during a couple of Dr. Hijazi’s surgeries. The first surgery I saw was on a 4-year-old girl who had a congenital hole between the two upper chambers of her heart.  The surgery took just under an hour and throughout a few residents explained what exactly Dr. Hijazi and his team were doing. I had never seen anything done so meticulously and with such equanimity. I was wholly inspired by the work I saw during my time at Rush. The experience ignited a deep passion in me for medicine and I cannot now imagine becoming anything other than a doctor when I grow up. Being at Rush and at Mikva has exposed me to some truly remarkable people and has given me a whole new appreciation for the brilliant work that doctors do. I hope someday I’ll be able to inspire someone the way they’ve inspired me.

Taylor Bacon is in her sophomore year at the Thacher School, in Ojai, Calif. 

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