Alright, I haven’t been so good at getting my blogging going. Being on back-to-back surgery rotations hasn’t left me with as much free time as I would like, but I have been learning a vast amount about my chosen field of residency!
So I guess to start out, I would like to say hello & congratulations to the new Freshman class. You have a long 4 years ahead of you, but I’m confident you can find the tools to succeed.
3rd years, I look forward to working with the chosen few of you on who overlap on my 4th year rotations. A little advice about the General Surgery rotation, so you can look awesome in front of the residents & attendings (and for the most part this applies to other rotations as well):
- Never be late! Time is crucial to a surgery team, and if you aren’t keeping up, you’re going to slow down every one else. Yeah, the days are early (4:30 am at the VA, little later at 5:00 am at RCRMC/LLUMC), but after a couple days you do adjust to your new schedule. Let’s say the resident wants to round at 6 am. If you’re running behind, then you start rounds late, then the intern is late to checking in the first OR case, which then gets delayed, and then the whole day gets stretched out, thus you end up going home an hour or more later than usual. So be on time, and you can go home at a decent hour 🙂
- Know your anatomy! It’s easy to find out what cases your attending will be operating the next day. Just check the schedule at the OR control room or ask your residents. Then the night before review the steps of the procedures & the relevant anatomy. Because THOSE are the questions the attending will be asking you while you’re smooshed next to them at the operating table. Nothing is quite as uncomfortable as being grilled while stuck in the OR, especially when you’re not getting the questions correct. Some attendings will even ask you to leave if it is obvious you don’t know the procedure/anatomy well enough. And that doesn’t reflect well on evaluations.
- Practice that knot tying! Residents always have silk/sutures in their coat pockets. At the end of an OR case, ask the scrub RN if you can have any opened but unused sutures (they’ll just be thrown away anyway). Please don’t steal them from the circulating room 😦
- Try to be comfortable! Good shoes, thick cushioned socks, and snacks stashed in whitecoat pockets will make the many hours on your feet more bearable. Sturdy shoes with good arch support are key (Dansk & Sofft are decent brands), thick socks provide a little extra cushion, and snacks keep your blood sugar up and give you that little extra boost (especially since it’s likely you might not get lunch).
- Never, EVER! ask your attending a question that you could have looked up yourself! You will look lazy, like you are just coasting through the rotation. If you don’t have access to a computer/textbook, then ask one of the interns, or even fellow students. And you learn better by active methods (looking up the answer yourself) rather than passive means (having someone tell you the answer) anyways. Surgical Recall has a ton of the more common questions you’ll be asked, but attendings do like to get creative.
- Be respectful, be courteous, and always ask the residents if they need any more help before leaving for the day. If you work hard, the residents will pass that on to the attending when it comes time to fill out to your clinical evaluation. And of course this applies to every other rotation in med school.
- Don’t be a cutthroat! This would be someone who tries to make their fellow students (or even residents) look bad, in order to make themselves look better. This will get you nowhere in medical school, and in life. Why would you deliberately want to be mean to people?
- For the Surgery SHELF exam: This SHELF exam actually has quite a bit of medicine on it (nutrition, acid/base, respiratory/cardiac conditions, microbiology, metabolic disorders, etc). A lot of students make the mistake of thinking it will be pure surgery/trauma questions. There are very few trauma questions on the exam! Pre-Test questions are harder than the ones you will see, so if you are doing decent on those, you will nail the SHELF. I personally enjoyed Kaplan’s Surgery Step 2 notes (simple straight-forward) as well as NMS casebook to fill in the gaps.
I feel that is the vast majority of key points in succeeding on a surgery rotation. I look forward to seeing you in the OR!