"The abdomen is becoming distended.” Those are the last words any physician wants to hear during a routine colonoscopy. But it was the situation Andrew Garrett faced during his family medicine rotation. That experience and many others has taken this 2014 Saba University graduate to a general surgery residency at Northside Medical Center in Youngstown, Ohio.
Andrew was completing his family medicine rotation in northeast Oregon when the colonoscopy he was assisting on took a dangerous turn and he found himself scrambling to find the sole surgeon servicing the very rural region. With the permission of both the attending and the surgeon, he followed the patient into the operating room to assist in a successful sigmoidectomy.
It turned out to be good preparation for his next stop: a general surgery rotation at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, FL. With sub-rotations in anesthesiology, trauma and thoracic surgery, Andrew found himself challenged and inspired by his experiences, from intubating a pediatric patient to resuscitating a critically ill multi-trauma patient to curing stage I lung cancer.
A native of southern California, when Andrew was looking into medical schools in the Caribbean he wanted a highly accredited school that would allow him to graduate with the least amount of debt. Saba University School of Medicine was the natural choice.
“I really liked Saba. The teachers were always available if you needed them. I managed as well to enjoy myself a bit outside of class as well…playing flag football and ultimate frisbee in the sun as well as indoor hockey in the St. John’s gym with the Canadians.”
After graduating from Saba, Andrew headed back to Youngstown having matched into a preliminary general surgery residency at Northside. Through hard work and dedication, he earned a categorical position.
Asked to put his experiences in general surgery into one word, Andrew chose “humbling.” “Compassion and professionalism are important attributes for any area of medicine, but particularly so in surgery where a procedure that might seem routine to a physician, is out of the ordinary for the patient who is trusting you with their body and their life.”
Looking to the future, Andrew, like the lone surgeon in rural northeast Oregon that he worked with during his rotations, sees himself operating in an underserved rural area.
Right now, this native of sunny southern California is living his dream and still finding time for ultimate frisbee.