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  • Gregg Cannady

Making the Cut: Your Path to Becoming a Surgeon Gregg Cannady

On Oct. 8, 2020 students from Belize and Colorado came together to learn about how to become a surgeon. Inspiring and informing our quest was Dr. Andrew P. Rabenstein, General Surgery • Stony Brook, NY.

Another inspiration was Hadi from Edward P. Yorke High School in Belize City. In addition to telling us about her passion to become a surgeon, she had several questions for Dr. Rabenstein. How do you handle adversity?

Dr. Rabenstein was able to join us from an actual operating room. His presentation included his journey from public school, through college, and eventually to his work as a surgeon in New York. He also showed us surgical tools and technology from the room he was in.

The path to becoming a surgeon is rewarding. "There are sacrifices that come along with that."

How about training for laparoscopic or robotic surgeries?

The stuff that makes you cry . . . the stuff that's difficult to handle.

Which organs of the body present the greatest challenge?

From Dr. Rabenstein: " . . . one of the most rewarding things for me is getting people excited about medicine, because that’s what gets me excited.."

Dr. Rabenstein offered to mentor students by helping them navigate the pathways and challenges leading to becoming a surgeon. Here is the link that Dr. Rabenstein referenced from the AAMC about things high school students can do to explore their interest in medicine.

Below are some survey questions and a few selected answers from our session.


Please tell us what inspired you and what you learned in today's Making the Cut session with Dr. Andrew P. Rabenstein: Chief Resident, Surgery, Stony Brook University.

I learned to never give up on your dreams and to keep working hard. He mentioned he always liked the healthcare field and even though they are many obstacles; just keep pushing to achieve it. Do the job that you love and not settle for a job that you don't enjoy. Be passionate about your job and enjoy every second of it.

I definitely felt very interested in surgery, particularly neurosurgery, or cardiovascular surgery. I did learn that there were ways where I could get done with medical school sooner, which was one of the big things for me.

I was inspire by his determination and perseverance he had while trying to become a surgeon.

I learned a lot about the different types of equipment within the surgery room and how these impact the way that surgeries happen in the future. It was really interesting to see how technology and biomedical engineering is really changing healthcare and helping take care of patients.

Today in the Making the Cut session, I became inspired. It's very interesting to listen to Dr. Rabenstein talk about his journey on becoming a surgeon. I believe it burned that little flame a little brighter.

I was inspired by my want to help others who are less fortunate than me and need more intense treatment.

I loved how his passion and love for his job came through that was very inspiring. I learned that there are many paths to becoming a doctor including not going through premed. I learned that you can do research with hospitals while still in high school.

I enjoyed this session a lot, I found it to be very informative. I have wanted to be in the medical field for as long as I can remember, and when I started high school and became a science major, I realized that my true calling was to be a surgeon.

One thing that I learnt during this session would be how fast technology is advancing and how many surgeons are getting used to this big change.

I learnt more about the insights from a residency doctor. I also got the chance to see some of the equipment in the surgery (operating) room, which I have always wanted to see.

I think getting the first person point of view of a surgeon is really important when trying to understand more about the career.

I was extremely interested in cardiology due to some personal (family) reasons. Even though Dr. Andrew mentioned how hard and challenging it was, I believe that was what attracted me more.

I learned that you can be a doctor if you believe in yourself.

What do you still want to know about your path to becoming a surgeon? We will use your answer to build future events, find answers, discover more, and connect with SME (subject matter experts) in meaningful ways.

What are the best med schools you suggest?

Is it possible for you to bring in a neurosurgeon, or someone that works with the brain?

I would like to know more about the emergency side of medicine and how that is different than other fields and surgeries.

How many years of internship does it take for one to become a surgeon?

In the future, do you think there will be an increase in demand for surgeons or a decrease in demand? and which field of surgeons?

If you are wanting to move into a specific field of surgery, what will the residency look like for you towards the end. Can you look into different specialties during your residency to decide what you want to specialize in?

I wanted to know how a surgeon would handle a situation where they are working alongside a colleague and they disagree on the best method to solve or help the patient.

Things that I still want to know would be: 1.) What are the best pre-med majors (better chance of getting into medical school, OR build the best foundation before entering medical school)? 2.)Are there anything that could be done during college/university that might be beneficial/useful before one get into medical school? 3.) Regarding the massive amount of knowledge to know as a medical student, are there any recommended memory/notes tips? 4.) Although medical books are hard to understand, are there any materials that might be suitable for those who want a head-start reading on "pre-med" textbooks?

When in school studying to become a surgeon or forensic pathologist, what are the things to look out for/avoid, and what are things you should ensure you participate in?

One thing that I still want to know in depth details about cardiac surgery and brain surgery.

What will you do with what you have learned from today's Making the Cut: Your Path to Becoming a Surgeon event?

I will persevere.

I definitely will use the websites he provided to continue to look for more opportunities.

I will now put more dedication and time to what i want to do.

I will read the information off of the link Dr. Rabenstein to answer any question that will appear in the future. I will also look into shadowing opportunities during high school, and the junior EMT program.

I am going to look for research opportunities at my local hospitals and colleges.

I wrote down some important words and phrases that were mentioned, and I look forward to doing more research to learn more about them. Hopefully, this will aid me in looking for a great school to start working towards my dream.

With today's session, it sparked me into researching more into the medical field, especially surgeons. I also saw how technology would have an impact on surgeries currently and in the future. As new robotic-assisted machines are used to operate minimally invasive surgeries with precision control, I think this fact got me more drawn into the field and more determined in this path of becoming a surgeon.

After today's call I will definitely make it my mission to look into possible shadowing opportunities.

I will look into financial aid more to ensure that if I pick a path in the medical field I will be able to finish my studies and not be burdened with the constant worry of how to pay for my education.

I will help to educate my friends who want to become a surgeon and I will be doing more research.

I will continue my education path with an open mind and believe in myself.

What can we do to make events like Making the Cut meaningful for you? Feel free to address content, delivery, and anything that helps to empower your passion for healthcare or your journey to become a surgeon.

I would like to do more activities centering around our events on zoom.

I suggest hosting more live sessions for us to learn more about to different fields and what they do. You can send emails that consists of articles or videos from surgeons/doctors themselves.

I do wish that it would be possible that we can have access to the slide shows and the recorded session.

I really enjoyed the event it was interesting there was interaction and it was super educational. I think having more of these events with different types of people within the medical field will be provide great learning opportunities for so many students and I would definitely attend them.

I would like to see internships and scholarships for the high school students who are interested in becoming a surgeon.

We could possibly have surgeons in different specialties or doctors in different fields and use break rooms to really explore the opportunities that are available in the health care field.

This was amazing being able to talk to a real surgeon. I think different sessions with differ ent types of surgeons would be helpful.

I loved this session, I just wish that there was more time so that the surgeon could've answered more questions. Thank you for this wonderful experience!

I believe insights of these surgeons are really meaningful, as I don't have an acquaintance or someone I know who is able to give me answers that I am curious about. So if possible, I would like more meetings such as today's but maybe with doctors from different specialties.

Events like these are already meaningful to me.


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