Concrete dreams of a plastic future | PostIndependent.com
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Concrete dreams of a plastic future

Physically, Natalia Coe is small, but her dreams make her larger than life.Coe, 18, just graduated from Rifle High School and although college classes don’t start for a few weeks, she’s gobbling up every morsel of information and experience about being a plastic surgeon that she can.Somewhat of a homebody, Coe left her family and friends in Silt for 10 days to attend LeadAmerica’s 2004 Congressional Student Leadership Conference in Chicago.Students who excel in school and extracurricular activities are nominated to attend the conference by conference alumni or local teachers.”I looked at it when I got it in the mail and the opportunity it would give me and I knew I had to go,” said Coe.Students choose one of eight seminars and earn college credits for attendance. Coe, who wants to be a plastic or orthopedic surgeon, spent the week in medical lectures where she learned about ethics, diagnostics and patient/doctor relationships.”Lots of people say they have problems with doctors not listening to them,” Coe said. “We learned how to build a rapport with a patient and care for them.”When Coe was 10, she went to the doctor to have tubes removed from her ears. The doctor came in, took the tubes out and left. He didn’t console her, didn’t tell her what he planned on doing and didn’t ask how she felt about the procedure.”I felt really uncomfortable,” Coe said. “It was like he thought to himself, ‘Oh boy, this is something else I have to do.'”As negative as the experience was, Coe learned what not to do as a practicing doctor.Going into medicine isn’t some hair-brained, flash-in-the-pan choice Coe made overnight. It’s something she’s always dreamed of doing.Coe’s had six plastic surgeries to correct her clef palate. The surgeries started when she was an infant. Her palate was separated and had to be brought together so she could eat. By the time she was 5 months old, she had already had three surgeries.”I started talking to my plastic surgeon about what he does and I just fell in love with the whole medical field,” Coe said.At the conference Coe learned basic medical diagnosis. She and a team of students had to diagnosis a pseudo-patient without using technological equipment.The students didn’t use equipment such as an MRI because their patient didn’t have health insurance and needed to keep costs as low as possible.The students did well and diagnosed the patient correctly. She had a brain tumor.Coe will attend Colorado Mountain College in less than two weeks.She doesn’t know where she’ll go to medical school but she knows she has to go.”This is really what I want to do and I want to make it,” Coe said.Contact Ivy Vogel: 945-8515, ext. 534ivogel@postindependent.com


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