Friday, September 8, 2017

Real Talk: Thoughts on General Surgery Rotation

So this post is extremely delayed (as in, I finished my surgery rotation in July haha), but I wanted to post it now that I actually had time to type out my thoughts I had previously hand-written. Hope you enjoy!

Seriously, how am I already on clinical rotation 2?! Time has been flying by, and I am totally not ready to be on my second rotation. Emotionally, at least. I really loved my first rotation, and I am so sad to have to leave it, especially because I learned a ton and was super interested in everything I was seeing and learning about!

Well, now it is time for my thoughts on general surgery! This should be interesting, since I was really not ecstatic about leaving endocrinology and never had a huge interest in surgery to begin with.

Day 1: No matter how many times my parents smile and ask me "aren't you excited to start your surgery rotation?!", I am really not excited. Partially because I loved endocrine so much and was just starting to feel comfortable there, and partially because I cannot see myself liking surgery. But alas, I am trying my best to go in with an open mind and really going to try and absorb all information possible because it will only help me in any field I eventually land in! After Day 1: I was oriented to the hospital I am working in, met my preceptor, saw 2 patients (compared to the 20+ I was seeing daily in endocrinology), and then was bored out of my mind for a few hours. It was exciting to see a lesion excision, but it was a simple office procedure which only required local anesthetic. Yep, on my first day in surgery, I didn't see any surgeries.

Day 2: I finally saw 2 surgeries! And actually scrubbed in on one! The second surgery (and first surgery I ever scrubbed in on) was a thyroidectomy (can this be a sign that my calling is endocrinology?)! It was a more complex case, and it took about 5 hours. The surgeon told me to get scrubbed in, so after one of the amazing nurses helped me and made sure I scrubbed in correctly, I was deep in a patient's neck staring at their thyroid and watching it come out. I didn't get to do any of the excision or suturing, but I was able to hold the retractors and help cut sutures which I was super happy about since it was my first ever true surgery. But after standing in my New Balance sneaks for 5 hours, my feet were screaming. Immediately after I was done for the day, I decided to purchase some Nurse Mate clogs because they were the only brand I've been able to find that don't feel like they fit awkwardly (more on these shoes coming up!).
Okay, now for how I honestly feel about this rotation: it's fun, but I don't think I can see myself ever doing surgery or even having a desire to do it. There is so much waiting around and not a lot of patient interaction. Maybe this is because of the facility I have my surgery rotation at, or maybe it is like that everywhere, but either way surgery isn't my thing. Yes, seeing a real life thyroid after I palpated hundreds of them in my first rotation (and questioned whether I was feeling a thyroid, their trachea, or making up things) was really cool, but as I was standing there, I found myself longing to talk to patients and to physically examine them instead of cutting, excising, and suturing.

Day 3: I saw 2 more surgeries, scrubbed in on 1 of them, and then had the rest of the afternoon free (see? more sitting around or finding myself something to do - of course I chose to find something to do though!). I eventually found an ortho PA to work with who happens to be part of the ortho surgery team. He was in clinic for the afternoon, so I hung out in his office and saw several joint injections which was really awesome! Plus, I finally got to talk with patients instead of hanging out with them while they are under anesthesia. I wasn't able to do any of the injections, but I was promised a shot (pun intended haha) at them tomorrow, and was taught how to find the appropriate spaces on several joints. PS my Nurse Mates shoes saved my feet SO much today - I walked in with my sneaks on and my feet were still hurting from the day before, but after wearing the clogs for the day my feet were barely in any pain. Definitely worth the money if you'll be standing for long periods of time!

Day 4: Today was my last day on this rotation for the week, since I will be back at my school to TA a clinical assessment lab. I am pretty relieved because I am exhausted and need a day to just relax some and get back into my comfort zone (no shame in an occasional easy day, right??). I didn't get to do any knee injections today because I was observing and scrubbed in on some surgeries.

End of Rotation: This rotation was definitely fun and interesting, and a huge adjustment coming from endocrinology where I was constantly busy! I got to see some really cool surgeries, and was able to assist in a few awesome cases. I wasn't pimped as much as I was during my first rotation, which was nice at the time (no nervous sweats for me while in full sterile attire! haha, well for the most part), but I honestly loved when preceptors actually asked me questions (even if I did break a sweat and have drips of perspiration on my face shield haha) because it helped solidify the material for me. I was able to do some joint injections and suturing (post-surgically and for lesion removals) as well. It was really fun to do procedures, and not as scary as I thought it would be! You kind of have to just go in with confidence, ask questions if you are unsure, and make sure to remember your basics that are in the back of your mind from didactic! It was really sad to leave some amazing preceptors and nurses who taught me SO much about surgery, sterile technique, and various procedures. But again, I am fairly confident that surgery is not my calling. That takes 1 of many more specialties off my long list of possibilities for after graduation.

I am looking forward to having a little diary of each of my future rotations, and deciding what I like and don't like about specific areas of practice. Feel free to let me know if you ever have any questions about my experiences! Of course, my experiences won't reflect everyone else's, but I would be happy to help in any way I can or to chat about anything PA school! :)