Surgery Clerkship Highlights

Like I said previously, I intended to keep track of my experiences this year, so it’s time to play catch up.

I started the clerkship on June 30 and ended on September 19. I worked with several groups: pediatric surgery, ENT (ears, nose and throat = otolaryngology), the surgical consultation service (mostly hepatobiliary surgeries), and the dedicated hepatobiliary service.

Pediatric surgery was amazing. I got to work with a wonderful surgeon who is incredibly nice and encouraging. She is a talented teacher and has the patience of Job. I was luck y to be paired up with a great resident and intern, both of whom taught me a lot.

Surgeries: hernia repair, pyloric stenosis repair, ostomy placement, central line placement, and Wilms tumor resection.

ENT was pretty cool. The clinic is a lot like a dentists office because there are a lot of tools in each room and you can do a lot of procedures in the clinic. There are a lot of interesting surgeries, but many of them aren’t that great to observe because they are done with scopes and viewed over video. It is the first time I ever worried I would fall asleep in surgery. The rooms are really cold, and since there was no point in scrubbing in, I would put one of the warm blankets over my shoulders to keep me from freezing to death.

Surgeries: Lacrimal tumor resection, ear tube placement, mastoidectomy, tonsilectomy, adenoidectomy, thyroidectomy, repair of deviated nasal septum, nasal turbinate reduction, and pituitary gland tumor resection.

The consult service was really fun because I was paired up with a great 3rd year resident and a good chief resident. They taught us all sorts of stuff whenever we had spare time. I worked with three other students. I became very good friends/study partners with one of them. The other two were difficult to work with, but it turned out all right in the end. There weren’t any big blow ups, we all pretty much avoided as much confrontation as possible. I worked with several surgeons on that service. Most of them were fun to work with. One of them showed us a bit of medical capitalism that was a bit disturbing.

Surgeries: lots of inguinal and ventral hernia repairs, ostomy placement, sigmoidectomy, partial thickness skin graft.

My last service was OK, but not nearly as fun as the consult service. I think I was getting tired at that point. I worked with two other students – both of whom were great. One of the surgeons scared me (I just found him unnerving), but the other surgeon really took me under his wing. The second surgeon, Dr. F, really likes teaching students and thanks to that, let me do a lot of sewing and cutting. It was awesome!

Surgeries: lots of inguinal and ventral hernia repairs, laparoscopic ventral/umbilical hernia repair, ostomy placements, sigmoidectomies, liver resections, appendectomy, and abdominal washouts.

All in all, I had a great experience. I really enjoyed it. I like scrubbing in, cutting, sewing/suturing, the tools and toys, the OR banter. I like the short notes and the focused care. I like that there are some things in medicine that are fixable. Certain conditions that would otherwise kill a person can be put to rest through surgery. Organs can be altered or removed to alieviate pain and disability.There are lots of negatives to being a surgeon too: long early hours, long residencies, emergency surgeries, etc.

I’m not sure if I’ll be a surgeon or not, but at least I have found something that I enjoy. If I had to choose right now, I would be a surgeon, but I’m trying to stay open minded for the rest of the year.

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