Thursday, July 21, 2011

Day 3 and 4 General Surgery

Yesterday I went in and took histories most of the morning, tried taking a thorough history, then tried to make them more focused. My notes are looking more proper, I think it helps that we didn't have any minor procedures that day, which are not quite surgery, not quite a normal visit, so those are a little challenging to document. Starting to talk more to the surgeon, which is good. He's warming up to me, I suppose. His 1:00pm surgery ended up getting pushed to 3:30pm, so me, the surgeon and the other student mostly sat in the physician lounge chatting for a while. It was nice, getting a bit more comfortable. Then we went to the surgery, it was an exploratory laparoscopy, which was interesting to observe. Ended up extracting an ovary and ovarian cyst (benign).

Today he had a hernia repair in the morning, during which I assisted. I got a few pimping-type questions, which was fun, and the anesthesiologist joined in as well and he was impressed that I seemed to know stuff - "It's refreshing having bright students come through." I don't know if it helps that I'm a girl, but at any rate, it was nice to get a little positive feedback during the experience. I also lucked out that the questions I got were rather infectious-disease related, which of course is one of my main interests. I still got to make the first incision on this, and also tied off the last suture for the mesh.

The next surgery I observed, it was a fistulotomy repair. The scrub nurse looked like Dr. Chase from House (teehee). After that we went to a different hospital and I assisted with a VAP insertion (Venous Access Port), in which we insert a tube into a vein and there is a subdermal port attached to it which is used to make it easier to administer chemotherapy and such. So, my part in it was identifying the trajectory of vein via syringe needle, then inserting a guide wire about 2-feet through the jugular vein, guiding a plastic tube around the guide wire, and then removing stuff after we got the port connected. I also got to do the subcutaneous suturing. Final surgery was observing another hernia repair and that's the end of the day. We were expecting to do a thoracotomy, but that guy got postponed to another day. I also got to watch a chest tube insertion on a guy with pneumothorax and lung cancer. Interesting, for sure.

Oddly enough, I find that doing the surgeries themselves is a lot more interesting than meeting with patients and writing SOAP notes after the encounters. I guess because it feels like a lot of busy work and they don't feel like regular patients since they are all referrals for surgery it feels like a pointless exercise. Also, in surgery you aren't dealing with people, you're just dealing with their flesh - it's like a mini-crafts project almost. You have cutting, pasting (I guess cautery can count as pasting - or cooking, haha), sewing, organizing, sculpting... I duno. It's interesting. I still highly doubt I would go into surgery, considering the years of training, the unpredictable hours, and constant standing and high risk of lawsuits, but this rotation is turning out to be a lot better than I was expecting.

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