General Surgery

For the past 2 weeks I have been on my first General Surgery rotation called BayView Red. The service is primarily composed of vascular surgery, thoracic surgery, and trauma surgery. Needless to say these patients are much sicker than the orthopedic patients and I can truly say that I’m learning how to keep patient’s alive. Just in the past 2 weeks I’ve had patients how couldn’t breath anymore or who had acute mental status changes or who were having a heart attack. These situations would have scared the poo out of me when I was on ortho, but I’m becoming much more comfortable with managing them now.

Before medical school I was really gung-ho about becoming a general surgeon because that was all that I had been exposed to initially. In particular I had been exposed to the trauma side of general surgery and I was completely enthralled. Then when I did general surgery as a 3rd year medical student I was put on a completely GI service with colostomies, anal abscess, etc and I vowed that I would never do general surgery. Since then I’ve had a mild distaste for the field primarily because of the bowel…I hate bowel. However these 2 weeks on the BayView Red have truly made me appreciate how diverse the field of General Surgery is. In a given day you could be in the OR dissecting through the neck to stop the bleeding caused by a gunshot or you could be doing a thoracoscopy to resect a lobe of the lung or you could be taking out a gallbladder. None of which involve the bowel, lol. I’ve been getting a lot of OR time on this rotation too, slowly honing my suturing and bovie skills. As a medical student watching residents use the bovie and the scalpel numerous times I always thought it would be easy to do it myself. But when the attending is looking at you and you are making the first cut its a whole different ball game, but its also exhilarating.

I’m slowly becoming a surgeon. Its an insidious process, but slowly you start to make decisions more definitively, slowly you are unfazed by taking 1 foot of gauze out of someone’s wound and repacking it, slowly arriving at the hospital at 4 am is becoming normal, etc. One day last week I was feeling really sad because all I wanted to do was be home with my wife and little girl, however when I went into the OR and did a couple of cases I completely forgot about my homesickness. Its experiences like this that have reassured me that I belong in surgery. But experiences like this have also reminded me that if I’m not careful, becoming a surgeon can destroy my family, which is unacceptable. Finding the right balance will be my life’s achievement.

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