The resident grabbed my bag off my shoulder as soon as the elevator doors opened to the outpatient surgical floor of the off-campus building, the first service to which I had been assigned. “You came at the perfect time; the next case is about to start,” she reported in one breath as she ushered me into the women’s locker room. “What size scrubs are you?” She estimated a size medium, told me to change (quickly!), grabbed me a cap and face mask, and we were on our way to the OR. Within the first whirlwind five hours of my third year of medical school, I had gone from zero to 100 miles per hour and participated (retracting is participating, right?!) in a couple thyroidectomies, parathyroidectomies, and breat sentinel node biopsy. And it was awesome!
In my “differential diagnosis” for my “chief complaint” of excitement of what medical specialty I want to go into, surgery has never been high on the list. In my head, pertinent positives have always been sparse, while pertinent negatives included a perceived lack of continuity of care, desire to work in an outpatient setting, and interest in preventive medicine. While I may not see myself pursuing a future in surgery, the past couple weeks have really opened my eyes to the complex nature of inpatient care and misconceptions I held about the specialty.
For example, for the past two weeks, I’ve been with the vascular surgery team, notoriously considered one of the busiest services at the hospital. I was amazed by how one single patient brought to the emergency department could be seen by so many different care providers: EMS, patient care associates, nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, the emergency attending and resident physicians, and various consultations from subspecialty teams. In addition, while the vascular surgeons do spend a lot of time in the OR, an equal if not greater amount of time is spent visiting patients on the floors and in clinic following-up with them years down the road.
I’m excited to finish out my time with the vascular surgery service and look forward to what the rest of my surgery rotation has in store for me!