Paeton Watkins, a rising senior at Stillwater High School, was awarded the 36th Rippy Fellowship in May. Over the next six weeks she and her fellow interns will shadow physicians, nurses, therapists, and other allied health professionals within the hospital and local clinics. The News Press will be sharing insights from the students as they journey through their experience.
Paeton definitely looks the part of a young professional. Interns are provided a lab coat with an internship patch and ID badge to distinguish them from clinical staff.
“I’ve been waiting to apply for this position since I was in the eighth grade" Watkins said. “I shadowed at the hospital a handful of times before the fellowship, and, having family in the medical field made me feel as though I knew what to expect from this summer. I was wrong in the best possible way.”
During her first week, Watkins observed Dr. Shayum Poludasu, interventional cardiologist, during a procedure to regulate a patient’s heart rhythm.
“I got to push the ‘shock’ button on the defibrillator,” she beamed. “In case you’re wondering, yes, the reaction is like what you see on TV or in the movies. It was incredibly exciting.”
Paeton also shared that the reality of medicine was evident from the start.
“There are so many aspects of life that healthcare professionals come face-to-face with on a daily basis, and most of them never even entered my mind,” she said solemnly. “This week, I learned a patient was being abused by their spouse, and that the nurse and I were some of the only people who knew. I also learned that there are children in that house. It was heartbreaking. Our healthcare professionals carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. I never considered the unfortunate situations they must learn to cope with, or how powerless they feel at times.”
Her smile returned though, when she shared, “I also learned the joy that watching the birth of a healthy baby will make everyone in the room cry, including me.”
Watkins knows there are more experiences awaiting her over the coming weeks. There will be surgeries to observe, patients to spend time with, and experiences she can’t even imagine.
“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the program has altered my entire perspective of life, and it’s only week one! I couldn’t be more grateful,” she said.
The SMC Foundation collaborates with SMC administration and department heads to achieve the maximum return possible for our donors’ and patients’ charitable investments, enhancing the hospital's medical equipment, facilities, services, education and personnel. Please contact D. Scott Petty, Executive Director of the SMC Foundation at 405/742-5387.