Doctor Check In: 9 Months In

Writing these “reviews” of my rotations have become an expected norm. Earlier this week a colleague of mine asked me when I was going to review my General Surgery rotation. Reviewing this rotation has been much easier than the one before which required a lot of introspection before I could publish an article.

January 2020 to March 2020 marked the three month period I would spend on General Surgery. My Christmas wish was to be placed on a team that would give me a good mix of experiences. My wishes came true.

General Surgery was bound to be a lot of work, our duties where 1 in 3 which basically meant every 3 days I was on call AND I would do full weekend call. Full weekend calls meant I was expected to work for a total of 56 hours.

The only negative thing I have to say about my personal experience was the number of calls and hours we had to work- it is exhausting- but because we had a good team they honestly weren’t as bad as they could have been. I always got sleep, never went hungry and had help whenever I needed it.

This rotation is a close second to my Internal Medicine rotation, I could go as far as to say they might be tied. Just like with Internal Medicine, I was able to challenge my seniors, ask questions and feel involved in the management of patients. I felt much more like a part of the management team rather than the “to do” person. The best part of the rotation for me was that I always felt that my seniors, including my consultant, had our backs and would stand up for us when needs be.

Lessons Learnt:

 

Less Is More

On surgery, I was expected to do surgical procedures like debride dead tissue from wounds. I could always go back and cut again, but I could never put back what I cut. The concept of doing things little by little can be used in all aspects of life, but it is even more useful when it comes to removing tissue.

Rapport is Key 

While becoming friends with coworkers isn’t necessary for working well together, building rapport is. With mutual respect and understanding of each other work goes by much smoother and people are less likely to be offended and/ or disrespectful.

Challenges are good

My favourite part of surgery was all the challenges that came my way. Challenges built skills and confidence- shying away from them prevents growth and improvement.

Know Your Seniors

Eventually, I was able to anticipate my seniors. This was good because it meant I did certain things before they even asked but more importantly, I was able to get some sleep/ food during their own down times. haha!

Build Confidence

In general, surgeons are seen as some of the most outwardly confident physicians. Even in our exams we are encourage to show confidence but not arrogance. Surgery, definitely built my confidence as a physician and how I speak and present to other members of staff.

It’s All in the Team

My experience was good, because my team was good. I am now 3/4s of the way through my internship, and the take home message from all of my rotations is that my experience is almost never related to the work- but to the team. Surgery has one of the heaviest workloads I’ve ever had- yet it has been one of my best experiences. As such, I have realised, that if you have a team that is dedicated to making the overall experience good whether by respecting all members, valuing the thoughts of all members and treating everyone, especially juniors fairly you can’t have a bad experience. I am happy I had the opportunity to work with doctors who were available to help me, spoke to me with respect and valued my input on management.

I couldn’t have asked for a better surgical experience.

Samantha C. Johnson

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