Hi, nice to meet you all. I’m Kaoru Yoshinaga, currently a fourth-year medical student at Keio University.
Summer is flying by and for the past few weeks I’d accomplished nothing but finding time to take a nap on my couch every single day and managing to make a dent that shapes like my body on it. Until Cardiovascular Surgery Summer School 2018 came along and spiced up my weekend. I was given the honor to write a little about the two days I spent in a remote, secluded place somewhere in Kanagawa, surrounded by people of all ages and learning about the whats, hows, and whys of CVS.
To be brutally honest, I had no interest in CVS whatsoever until I had lectures on it about six months ago. I was mesmerized by the concept of actually being able to hold the heart—the ultimate engine of life—in my hands and fixing it to save people. But I had no idea what the world of CVS was like, so I knocked on the door of the department at my university and have spent the last few months taking part in research (also part of the curriculum at Keio). It was during this time that news of this summer school reached me, and I knew it was the perfect chance for me to broaden my knowledge and view of this field of medicine.
Turned out, I got more than I’d bargained for. Not only did I get to watch a live surgery with commentators via the screen, I also practiced stitching skin and blood vessels and deploying EVAR, all of which was done together with my three new friends (there were only four fourth-year students including myself out of the 50 students attending). But the most significant experience I had—and would be a life-changer, to be sure—was attending the get-together with all the students, residents, and faculty.
I lost track of how many people I talked with during the gathering and the ensuing after-party, but I had conversations with female doctors that had my head swimming with thoughts and possibilities throughout the whole night. I knew being a woman and a surgeon at the time would mean making tough choices and sacrifices, but I’d never had the opportunity to hear about it from the actual doctors. Deeply humbled by the resilience and determination of these female doctors and the roads they’ve paved way for, I was able to end the night feeling hopeful that following their lead may not be beyond my capability as I had previously thought.
And the after-party was full of jokes and laughter, and I got to see the not-so-serious side of surgeons that I would love to be part of someday. I also made acquaintances with students and doctors close to my age, promising to drop by at their universities and hospitals when I have the time to. My list of LINE friends grew dramatically longer in those couple of hours, and I know each of these connections would serve as a guide to me when the time comes to make choices about my career.
Oh, and I learned about the existence of Team WADA at the summer school, too. That was something I hadn’t expected, and I will be eternally grateful to Dr. Kitahara for making me pass out T-shirts (when I hadn’t even known him) which automatically made me part of the team. I could see myself facing situations that would have me seeking the help of the team in the near future.
As you would have realized until reaching this point, I suck at summarizing. So I’ll stop here, and if there is anyone who finds this post to be lacking in information about the summer school, then apply and go experience it yourself next year. This was the eighth summer school held, and I’m sure there’ll be a ninth. I’ll go back to snoozing on my couch.