Saturday, September 02, 2006


Yesterday was my first day of surgery. I had to get to the hospital by 6, so much of the day is a daze. I have two other students on my team, an intern, and two senior residents. We rounded on our team’s patients with the residents, then went to orientation at 8. We got the standard orientation spiel giving information about grading and what-not, then had to get access badges from security so we can get into the OR. At noon, we went to OR orientation which consisted of scrub nurses teaching us how to scrub in and put on gowns and gloves while keeping everything sterile. It is a lot harder than you would think, and I have no doubt that I will violate the sterile field and have to re-scrub quite often. After two hours of this, we went to surgery clinic. I saw one patient who was there for gallstones. The doctor sent me in to talk to her for ten minutes. The first seven consisted of her telling me about her back problems—I was finally able to extract some incredibly vague and dubious information about some abdominal pain that she had a year ago and was coming back. Then the doctor came in the room, and I had virtually no information to give him. Fortunately, he didn’t ask for it and just started talking to the patient who almost immediately started telling him about her abdominal pain. Grrr… He still had to talk to her for almost 45 minutes to explain everything to her though, I was very impressed with how nice and patient he was with her. At the end of the interview, he mentioned to her that he had an aunt whose married last name was the same as hers. It came out that they were second cousins by marriage, and they started talking about Aunt Josephine and various relatives. It was one of the most bizarre moments of my life, for a minute I almost wondered if the doctor was making it up to boost her confidence, but it became clear that was not the case. After that, we went and rounded on our patients again (we students were starving since we hadn't eaten for 12 hours), and the residents told us that since there are no scheduled surgeries or clinic over the Labor day weekend, only one of us would have to come in each day. I went in today, so I get tomorrow and Monday off! That was totally unexpected, but definitely not unappreciated.

I went in this morning at 7:30 (I had to go to bed last night around 9 since I got up at 4:30), I didn’t have to pre-round because I won’t have any patients to follow on my own until I am in on a surgery. I looked up all the labs on our patients (this hospital’s computer system doesn’t even come close to the VA’s), and rounded with the intern and one of the residents. I came home at noon.

This will be an important two months for me since I am interested in surgery—hopefully by the end I will know for sure whether I want to pursue it or not. It is difficult though, because there are so many factors that go into each rotation. For example, I really enjoyed last month, but it wasn’t necessarily because I like internal medicine, it could be just because I had a really great team. If I do/don’t like this month, I will have to figure out if it is because I do/don’t like surgery, or if it is some other factor. My senior resident told me that she originally wanted to go into family practice, but by the Thursday of her first surgery rotation realized she wanted to do surgery. I think the main thing that would turn me away from surgery would be the lifestyle, but while it can be bad, I’ve been told that there is a group of surgeons around here who only work four days a week and only take call every sixth weekend. I think that would be very doable, one would just have to get through the 5-7 years of residency.


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