Reflections on the beginning of my third year

Dear readers, as of 7/1, I started my clinical training with my first rotation being general surgery. To quote the great philosopher Morpheus, “Welcome… to the real world” (The Matrix, 1999). I have already had numerous firsts: I inserted my first foley catheter, tied my first surgical knot on a human being, had my first overnight call, and scrubbed for surgery for the first time (I also managed not to contaminate anything by the way, which was my personal goal for my first day in the OR).

I have also observed much about the way “the real world” works… it’s not all good. I have seen what I would call borderline assaultive physical examinations. I was “corrected” about my physical exam technique of asking patients (only adults, with kids this can get you into trouble) for permission to examine them; since patients expect to be examined there’s apparently no need for chit-chat before palpating the abdomen that they just had operated on. I have heard physicians and other staff make inappropriate, or downright rude comments about obese patients – especially once they’re under anesthesia. I wonder how the patient would feel if they were to hear those comments. I wonder if the individuals making the comments would regret making them if the patient had heard them. Anesthesiology is not a perfect science you know.

With regard to the amount of material I have to learn, I think it is fair to say that I have a long way to go. I’m on the learning curve… it’s just really steep.

Overall I’m pleasantly surprised with my surgery rotation. I expected this to be a miserable rotation, based on what I had heard from other students. It’s not bad really. I don’t think surgeries are terribly exciting, so I do get bored in the OR. The hours are long, and your feet do hurt at the end of the day. But what did my colleagues expect? I don’t find this particular rotation enjoyable, but it’s not bad, I can appreciate it, and I expect the time to go quickly. I didn’t expect sunshine and rainbows, so I’m perfectly at peace with that.

Until next time. -AJ

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