One of the great parts of 4th-year is that you have more autonomy in your schedule. You choose your electives and sub-Is, you find away rotations that you potentially want to go to. So since I’ve finished my sub-internship, I decided to do a 2-week rotation in the surgical intensive care unit, aka the SICU.
Unlike a surgical sub-I, there is no time in the operating room. This was the first surprise I had. We spend all of our day managing patients. And while at first, I was hesitant about not getting OR time, I’ve actually learned a lot from my patients. In the ICU, we talk a lot about physiology. About Starling’s forces. About post-op fevers. About preload and afterload. Lines, pressors, and fluids. I like to call this elective “things I wish I learned in med school” because, in the ICU, you are practicing the most fundamental aspects of patient care. I highly recommend taking an ICU elective, whether you go into medicine, surgery or pediatrics. You learn a lot about the fundamentals of daily patient care.
So while I don’t spend any time in the OR, I’m learning about how to treat patients outside of the OR. From pre-op to post-op, we see patients in their most critical conditions. It’s incredible. You learn about systems-based assessments and plans. In the SICU, every number matters. As a medical student, you start to feel like you’re practicing medicine.