On the Wards – General Surgery (Day 6)

A third year told me, “you do a whole lot of sitting around and waiting during third year.”

That pretty much describes my last day on the General Surgery service. Well maybe not completely. A fellow first-year and I chased around senior residents and attendings trying to find someone to fill out our evaluation from.

I asked an attending in the morning at around 9 (right after she finished lecturing on the large intestine to a group of 10 of us). She looked at me, smiled, and said, “How do I know you?”

That’s the problem when you are a first year and only spending a week and a half (7 clinic days) on a “rotation.” Each day I saw a different attending. And she suggested that I speak up more so that she could get to know me.

I have no idea what to speak up about, though. When I round with the team, I’m the bottom of the totem pole! After only one year of medical school, I still have no idea what they are talking about. There’s no way I can put together a sensible question that would do anything more than waste time and slow them down.

Well the attending then looked to a third year and said something to the effect of: “I don’t know why we have to fill out an evaluation on for the first years. They’re here for a week. What are we supposed to evaluate them on?”

And she’s right! How are they supposed to get to know us when we hardly see them? And what exactly are we there to do? Watch and observe. So why can’t we just sign an attendance sheet or something like that? We need a full page, triplicate sheet to be evaluated on our performance (that consists of showing up to clinic and watching attentively)?!?

Well the attending asked if I’d be around later in the day and I said I would. So she said she would do it later.

Well my classmate and I finally found a senior resident who agreed to sign it off for us. But he wanted to sit down and talk to us. But before he actually signed it, he was paged to go round with the attending (the same one I talked to earlier). So we followed like little puppy dogs waiting for a treat — in this case the signature.

Well after rounding ended, the chief resident walked off without a word. We thought he was coming back since the attending was still around. But then she walked off in another direction. Unsure about what was going on, we hung out with some of the interns since they were still with the patients. Then, deciding to go look for the chief resident, we went to the OR and found him and the attending scrubbed in and ready to begin a new operation.

So then we sit in the call room for two hours just talking to the interns about life and medicine before we decide to go back to the OR and see if the case is done. It is, but we have to wait till the patient is taken to the recovery room. Finally the chief resident takes us back to the conference room. He talks to us for about 40 minutes about medicine, surgery, and life. The conversation was great, though. I learned quite a bit from him and really appreciate the fact that he took time to be so candid and share with us. For that I am very grateful!

My frustration stems from these evaluation forms we have to fill out. I could’ve scrubbed in on another case today. But instead, I’m sitting around trying to wait for a signature. Now that’s a really useful and educational use of a day! Well, if I am to stay positive, then at least I got in some very interesting and enlightening conversation.