As you all may know by now, I’m applying to general surgery programs, and I am very adamant about becoming a surgeon. So much so, that “if you couldn’t be a surgeon, what would you be” gives me much pause. I don’t know, frankly, if there would be a career in medicine that would give me as much satisfaction as surgery.
But one of the best pieces of advice I received from a mentor trauma surgeon was to pursue electives not in surgery. Just some context, I was seeking advice on how to best utilize my 4th-year to look good for surgical residency programs. And his best advice was “don’t do surgery.” I was shocked at first, I am preparing to become a surgeon. But when he explained his comment, it made sense. Take time to pursue fields that will be ancillary to surgery. “Try cardiology, or GI, or radiology, or pathology. You will have to work with these providers every day. Wouldn’t it be nice to see what they go through and hear how they approach the same patient?’ His words gave me perspective.
For all of you who are dead set on a career specialty, try branching out. Once you start residency, you won’t have the chance to see different types of medicine. Explore now and learn as much as you can. It’ll make consulting those services that much less of a burden.
P.S. Since then I’ve signed up for a pathology and radiology elective, so I can learn how other providers approach surgical patients. I look forward to learning more from them. Stay tuned!