On the Wards – General Surgery (Days 1-3)

I switched to General Surgery after a week and a half at Child Psychiatry. For this rotation, I’ll try to give a day-by-day account of how it went down. And I guess I should write that I was assigned to one third year for the whole time. In a sense, I’m discovering what the life of a third-year is like.

Day 1: Didn’t do much today. The third year I was following was assigned to Minor Surgery. So watched as two patients had sebaceous cysts removed from their backs. The cuts were about an inch deep (if I remember correctly). Not much blood and since this was a minor procedure, the patient had only local anesthesia and was awake the entire time.

The attending asked the 3rd year to suture one patient using a particular method. He replied that he had never done that before. But that didn’t stop him because the attending explained it and had the student do it anyway. I wondered what the patient was thinking as he heard this conversation.

Makes me wonder if, should I ever need a major hospital stay, I want to be admitted into a teaching hospital.

Day 2: All the third years had lectures this morning. In the afternoon there was clinic. Apparently it was a very busy day with a lot of patients. Before I left, I got to see two patients with either an attending or the 3rd year I am following.

There was one attending with whom I was absolutely impressed with. She is a surgical oncologist and invited me to come see a patient with her because I didn’t seem to have anything to do at the time. The patient was an elderly gentleman who had colon cancer. She had resected the cancerous part and was now suggesting that he undergo chemotherapy. Chemotherapy was suggested to reduce the risk of the cancer recurring.

The man told us that he had fought in three wars, but this situation scared him. I was so impressed with the “bedside manner” of this attending. She took his hand, explained to him the pros and cons, reassured him, answered all his questions, and then told him that the choice was his to make but that she would not care or love him any less whatever he decided. He remarked that he was glad she was his doctor. He kissed her hand. She hugged the patient’s wife. It was clear that she had cultivated an excellent doctor-patient relationship in which the patient and his wife truly trusted and liked their doctor. I even heard the patient say that he and his wife would adopt the attending.

I can only hope that one day I can have that sort of relationship with the people I treat.

Day 3: My third year was post-call today. I came in for pre-rounds at around 6 AM. We went around with the senior resident and everyone presented to her. An hour later we joined 2 attending surgeons and rounded with them. Apparently everyone was a bit high-strung because the attendings were present. I learned that the attendings normally only round on certain days and the rest of the week the residents and medical students present their patients to the senior resident. So there was a little more stress since no one wanted to mess up or not have an answer for either of the attendings.

Still wondering if I will get in the OR before my time here is up. But then again, I wouldn’t be able to do much…