When I walked in to meet the physician I would be shadowing, Dr. Yankelevitz in Radiology, I was bit nervous. I interacted with him often in the past, mainly through working with my advisor Dr. Anthony Reeves and their many collaborations with one another. That was always with me in the place of an engineer, and the generic conversations basically going,
Drs.: "We need to measure this from XYZ data"
Engineers: "Sure, we can do that."
Followed by literature searches and then design/implementation of some algorithm to accomplish. In general though, we as engineers are usually never concerned with the finer points of patient care (unless you work in industry and then, understandably, you are concerned with anything that can help turn a profit), just how to get Y measure from X data. On the flip side, most doctors tend to treat the output from engineer designs as blackboxes. As long as the result is correct, their happy. Its just a fundamental difference in mindset. I think it will take a special set of people (like biomedical engineers) that take a step back from the super-specialized form of education that modern society praises and back into the realm of inter-disciplinary, generic, "I know some of a lot of subjects" education, so that no matter who you're discussing a project with, you can follow along, and possibly even translate from "Doctor-ish" to "Engineer-ese" and back. At any rate, I digress.
This would be the first time though that I would get to see things from a clinical perspective. The first time I would have to be more than an engineer in a sense, and that was a bit unnerving. Luckily, since I have collaborated with my doctor in the past, a part of me gets to stay an engineer, and that's probably a good thing. So I met with my doctor and since I have a seen alot more than just the images most people think of when they hear the word 'Radiology'.
So in my time here I have been able to see a many things. Lung biopsy's that were border-line absurd in difficulty (and therefore took far longer than normal), and which made me understand why Dr. Yankelevitz is world renowned for performing them. I've seen the histology and cytology that is done as part of the biopsy (i.e. something other than the black and white images that I'm used to seeing). I've been in the reading room where dozens of ICU X-ray images are read multiple times a day at rapid speed. I definitely have been busy this past week.
I know that soon I'm going to shadowing several more groups of people before my time is out, so we'll see how that goes.