At my medical school, we are required to take an ICU rotation during 4th year. Back when I was contemplating surgery and interventional radiology, I put the surgical ICU as my ICU of choice for my 4th-year lottery. Since I decided to go into medicine a little later than expected, I didn’t manage to switch into a medical ICU.
I have to the say, the surgical ICU was brutal. There were some really sad cases in the SICU. I watched as gunshot victims passed away and news broke to their families. I had to do chest compressions on a man who had already passed away to maintain perfusion to his kidneys for donation. The other difficult aspect of the SICU was the 28-hour call for medical students. These were not fun. You realize very quickly how many little things need to be done that chew up time. Putting in dobhoff tubes, OG tubes, advancing ET tubes, NG tubes, checking important labs and imaging for patients. On top of this, you need to admit and work up any new patients that arrive. Luckily, a decent amount of residents understood that it was 4th-year, and let me get more sleep than I probably should have.
ICU rounding is interesting though. It is very holistic. You approach each patient from a systems-based perspective, from head to toe: Neuro, Cardiovascular, Pulmonary, GI, GU, and skin. I found that this was a great way to think about patients, and appreciated the opportunity to learn this way. ICU call is brutal, though! Never again.