It took me most of third- and fourth-year med school to realize that "This is new and exciting and so so cool!" does not mean "This is what I want to do for my career." I used to see surgery as the pinnacle of medicine. Surgeons were the ones who saved people. They made obvious differences to their patients' lives, with immediate and tangible results. They worked hard and remained calm under pressure. I felt that surgery would be the most challenging field of medicine to enter and to choose any other specialty would be wimping out. Looking back, all I can say is that I could not be more relieved that I snapped out of my Grey's Anatomy-inspired delusions of grandeur and picked a (non-surgical) specialty that was right for me.
While I still believe that surgery is one of the most challenging specialties, I know that my specialty (like any other) will challenge me in unique ways. Surgery is not for everyone and I'm glad I didn't end up pushing myself into it, only for the sake of taking the "hard route".
Enough rambling! Here's how I spend a typical day:
0530 h: I head to the hospital, get changed into scrubs, and print a list of my team's patients.
0600 h: The residents and medical students meet in the lounge. Whoever was on call fills everyone else in on the overnight consults and ward issues.
|our lounge...dead because everyone's off working|
|one of the wards|
|a glimpse of sunlight en route from ward to OR|
|leftover rice, lentils, & a hard-boiled egg (the best lunch I can pull together at 4:45 am)|
|call room -- on my most recent call I spent exactly zero minutes here :(|
Honestly, apart from looking things up in the moment on UpToDate, I haven't been doing any anticipatory or retrospective reading this block (residents just don't seem to get pimped in the same way as med students...so there's definitely less motivation). That being said, I did read plenty during my three months of surgery in medical school. My two favourite books were:
- Essentials of General Surgery by Peter Lawrence -- I didn't read many textbooks in medical school, but this is one that I actually read just about from cover to cover. I found that it was very readable, included clear anatomy diagrams, and went into just the right amount of technical detail for a medical student or resident. The double-sided "fold on the dotted lines" step-by-step instruction page on open mesh inguinal hernia repair is the clearest explanation I've seen of that procedure (and that's one that you will be pimped on, so be prepared!)
- Surgical Recall by Lorne Blackbourne --
- trauma survey -- If you're working in a centre where you'll encounter traumas, make sure you memorize the primary (ABCDE) and secondary survey components. Also know the mnemonic "AMPLE" (Allergies, Medications, PMHx, Last meal, Event/Environment). As a med student or resident it may be your job to perform and chart these things!
- PreTest Surgery -- Just like I did for my other med school rotations, I worked my way through this book of multiple choice questions when studying for my NBME. However, I can't say I'm sure it was very helpful.
If you've done a general surgery rotation and have any tips or study resources to recommend, please feel free to comment!