In this post we will go IN depth of my Surgery Clerkship experience. From general surgery to its subspecialties, I will take you through the 8 weeks of this journey.
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 scariest. I will get to all these points in a minute. The director of the department is a scary man to all the undergraduates. This is mainly because he is an old fashioned, stereotypical surgeon. In reality 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.
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.
There were so many mixed feeling for this rotation. I loved being in the OR in ObGyn, and I have always found surgery fascinating. Honestly I was scared of not meeting the directors expectations. There was always the fear of not being good enough for the preceptors. From what I have gathered, this is a common feeling among many of us medical students. This is especially so when we have been average during preclinical years, and average on step 1. From day one they say how these two things define our career. Perhaps it is for that reason that we approach the most complex of rotations with fear and anxiety.
Interim: If you are looking for ways to improve your studying and have a solid study schedule for USMLE check out THIS post!
The clerkship is divided in two blocks: general surgery and subspecialties. I began with specialties. My first 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). It was time for plastic surgery. Once 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! According to him I was a natural. By this second week I started to gain a little more confidence in my skills in the OR. Turns out I loved plastic surgery! If I had considered surgery, this was something to look into further. 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. It 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 where everyone was very nice and helpful.
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. Really, it is just a personal discomfort with ears and noses. I blame my visit to Lahey Clinic in 2009. It was there that I saw a maxillary sinus surgery. This kind of surgery terrified me due to my history of chronic sinusitis. Turns out this was yet another amazing Doctor! By the end of the rotations he was trying convince me to go into ENT. I felt proud when he said he was impressed with my work ethic and skills. 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.
I’m not gonna lie, by this point I was exhausted. Also with the shelf around the corner, general surgery I thought was going to be a drag. At the beginning I was skeptical and nervous because of what I’d heard about the Doctor who was going to be my preceptor. First day rolled by, and so on. There was so much to done that time went by at the speed of light. My preceptor was covering another Doctor, so the workload was intense. This also meant more opportunities to learn.
The schedule was intense and this meant seeing patients and doing notes on Saturdays. 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.
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.
For a more detailed list of the resources I used, check out THIS post going over my clerkship essentials!
Thanks for reading!