When I found out I had Surgery as my first rotation, I was nervous. I heard horror stories about surgery, how tough and terrible some of the team members were. But, I was also excited because I have an interest in it. In my mind, it was either going to solidify if I can be a surgical PA or scrap that idea entirely.
Thankfully, I loved my time in General Surgery. I loved the types of surgeries we did, the patient care and how the team worked together. I got to work autonomously for majority of the time by taking H&P, writing my notes, presenting to the Residents or the Attending. I also was 2nd assist in all the surgeries I scrubbed in on ( the lovely job of retracting, suctioning, guiding the scope at times, and closing) because the Interns were the 1st.
I got feedback from various people such as how well I did with my h&p, patient/provider interaction, overall professionalism as well as things to work on (i.e- how to work on my notes, suturing, knot tying, and other placed I can improve upon).
Take away points :
- If you dont know it, dont say that you do. If you’re not sure of a lab value, vitals, status or information, don’t make it up to look good for that moment. Just say, “idk, but I’ll check & get back to you”. It shows that you’re taking responsibility and not placing a patient’s health in jeopardy.
- Read about the usual Gen Surgeries. I only got pimped ( when MDs ask you questions about medication, anatomy, physiology, etc on the SPOT, mostly likely in the OR while retracting lol) a handful of times and only once was it embarrassing. I advise reading your basic blood vessels of the GI tract, anatomy of the GI, and any interesting case coming, read about it!
- Be attuned to your surroundings. Pay attention to the discussions happening around you because it looks bad if someone ask you for an update on a patient on your team and you don’t know what is going on. The team is constantly busy, moving at a fast speed that it can be overwhelming the first few days, but if you just ask what can be done to ease their workload, it will help you find your footing much better and faster.
- Follow up on your patients. You’re usually assigned one or two patients to follow. Round on them before your AM round, complete pertinent physical exam, ask the patient of they understand the plans and monitor them throughout the day. As students, we get more face time with the patients than the team does.
- Work with everyone on the floor. Get the nurses to teach you how to draw blood if you dont know how or not comfortable. Help out the nurses whenever you can. Anyone need a specimens sent to the lab? Volunteer. They’re are doing wound care rounds? Go ahead and offer to assist. You’ll learn from not only the immediate providers but from the axillary team as well.
- Feedbacks are important. To have someone who tells you how you’re doing & where you can improve will help you as you round out your time with the team. So, ask the Residents or anyone you’re working closely with about how you’re doing if no one has by your 4th week.
- Study while on rotation. You’ll have some down time where you can whip out your tablet, notes, or phone and get some questions or videos in before your next case. You can also work on your writeups so it doesn’t pile up for later. Use your time efficiently.
- Perfect your craft. Practice how to tie your knots and sutures. Perfect your history taking and your physicals. Volunteer a lot. You learn by doing.
- Take care of yourself. You’re going to be up before dawn (I was usually up by 4:30am because my site was very close. Imagine if it was further??). Sleep early, keep snacks on you for busy days. Plan accordingly. Set aside time to study, even if it’s just an hour a day and time to have fun. Go out with friends and decompress with loved ones, because it can get overwhelming very fast!
How did I PASS my EOR??
- I prayed ALOT to God.
- I printed out the topic list from PAEA (our school uses their EOR exams).
- Read Pance Prep Pearl’s according to the topics needed. PPP went everywhere with me, literally.
- OnlineMedEd videos for an “in lecture” recap & took notes.
- Rosh Review and Smarty Pance for questions.
I can honestly say I had a great time in Surgery, which was not what I expected. I complained about my early mornings, but I learned alot in such a short time, often looked forward to the procedures. I am looking forward to the remaining 9 rotations, so wish me luck and watch this space!!
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