I thought I would share some helpful tips that were given to me to make my time in surgery run smoothly. You have to realize that the surgery department in a hospital is pretty much its own entity. It’s like walking into another world because everything and everyone is so secluded from the remainder of the hospital.
First, I want to stress the importance of arriving on time. Students and residents alike are always expected to be early. It doesn’t matter how late the surgeon is, it is never ok to be late. As a medical student, make a great impression on your resident by showing up before they arrive in the morning. Be prepared to be present by 5 am. When you arrive take the initiative to go check up on your patients that you assisted with the day before. Have some vitals prepared just to make your residents morning a little easier. These small tasks will go a long way.
Next, come prepared for daily lectures. You will have a lecture schedule on various topics presented by a variety of specialists. Do not show up with the mentality that you will just sit back and breeze through this. They are more of a discussion, and a perfect opportunity for a surgeon to test your knowledge base. There are plenty of supplemental handbooks that can help you review these high yield topics. Choose one, and stick with it.
Also, make sure you take a short break sometime through the day to eat something. It will be very easy for the day to just flash before your eyes when you come to the realization that you never actually ate anything. Bring a snack bar, or keep some food in the residents’ lounge. Finally, don’t ask to leave. Show your residents that you are here to be a member of the team. When the work is done the resident will be more than happy to send you home. Hopefully you will feel that your help is appreciated, and needed.
If you follow these simple tips, your life in surgery should go pretty smoothly. Good luck!