Clerkship Experiences: Surgery

After 2 months doing what I love in Ob-Gyn, it was time for surgery. At my school, surgery is a weird rotation. It is one of the coolest, one of the hardest, and one of the most scary. I will get to all these points in a minute. The director of the department is a scary man to all the undergraduates. He is an old fashioned, stereotypical surgeon, but he is also one of the most inspiring, thoughtful, caring person you will meet. He is very strict with punctuality, attire, and professionalism, but he can also acknowledge hard working students even when they struggle.

Surgery Clerkship

Compiling this post I realized I have only 1 picture of my time in the surgery rotation so I will be using other images to describe this journey.

I had so many mixed feeling for this rotation. I loved being in the OR in ObGyn, and I have always found surgery fascinating. I was mostly scared of not meeting the directors expectations, and not being good enough for the preceptors. From what I have gathered, this is a common feeling among many of us medical students, especially when we have been average during preclinical years, and average on step 1. We are told so many times these 2 things can define our career, that we approach the most complex of rotations with fear and anxiety.


We have 8 weeks of surgery rotations that is divided into two broad categories: general and specialties. I began with specialties, and my first one was Breast Surgery. I was so nervous because this doctor is the only female surgeon attending we have, and I have no idea why I thought she’d be very strict. Boy was I wrong. She is the sweetest surgeon I have ever met, and she is the epitome of a #girlboss. She has a super bubbly, joyful personality and is a great teacher. From day 1 we got along great and we definitely had good chemistry. To this day I love running into her and we talk about almost anything.

Then my husband ended up hospitalized during the weekend and the night before I started my second specialty (aka week #2) I was in the hospital. It was time for plastic surgery, and again I was a nervous wreck filled with exhaustion. Turns out this doctor was also very chill and a great teacher. He even let me suture by myself, and said I was a natural. This second week I started to gain a little more confidence in my skills in the OR. Turns out I loved plastic surgery and if I were to consider surgery, this was something to consider. This doctor was amazing, he does great work, and he too is a great teacher.

Third week rolled by and I was assigned to urology. This week was pretty uneventful but I made a new friend. I got to spend some time with a student from St George SOM in Cyprus and turns out we had a lot in common, and we got along great. The main Doctor went to a conference so I got to spend most of my time with his partner. Urology was cool but there is way too much radiation exposure, and the surgeries are too long. Urology people are super cool and sweet too, so this was a great week, everyone was very nice and helpful.

Surgery positions

One month already, almost, this last week of specialties I was in the dreaded ENT. Now let me clarify, I have nothing against ENT’s, it is just a personal discomfort with ears and noses. I blame my visit to Lahey Clinic in 2009 where I saw a maxillary sinus surgery and was scared for life due to my chronic rhinitis/sinusitis issue. Turns out this was yet another amazing Doctor, and he was so impressed by my work ethic and skills that he tried to convince me to go into ENT. I felt so honored that he saw that future in me, ENT is a great specialty, very competitive, so it serve as yet another self esteem booster.

After these 4 weeks, I was starting to get tired, and with the shelf around the corner, general surgery I thought was going to be a drag. At the beginning I was skeptical, nervous because of what I’d heard about the Doctor who was going to be my preceptor. First day rolled by, and so on and  with so much work to be done those 3 weeks rolled by at the speed of light. My preceptor was covering another Doctor, so the workload was intense, this also meant more opportunities to learn. I had to go see patients and do notes on Saturdays, but it also meant I got more time by myself to do notes and interact with the patients without the rush of the week. I liked general surgery from a learning perspective but I definitely ruled it out as a possible specialty. The lifestyle is rough, the training is rough, and I missed the patient interaction greatly. I discovered that I do like that primary care aspect you get in ObGyn and the surgical aspect too.

suture cutting

The last week rolled by and it was time to complete the patient log, finish Uworld questions and polish my knowledge for the shelf. I ended up doing a little lower that I expected but I still had a decent grade on the shelf which guaranteed my Honors for this rotation. And with that I said goodbye to the OR and prepared to embark on the journey of Family Medicine.

Thanks for reading!


Jani <3

0 comments so far.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.