My second clerkship during third year was Surgery. This was a big change from Pediatrics, but with more responsibilities, it also helped me feel more and more like I was becoming a doctor.
Timeline: 8 weeks
At my school, we were on two different surgery teams for 4 weeks each. We were allowed to submit our preferences and then were divided up by a lottery system. I was on the General Surgery and Pediatric Surgery teams. A few services that other students rotated through were colorectal, surgical oncology, cardiothoracic, and trauma.
Other: weekly lecture/case based study with quiz; NBME at the end of the clerkship
The hours varied depending on how many surgeries were scheduled for each day and whether we had lectures/quiz. In general, though, we got to the hospital between 4:30-5:00am for rounds at 6:00 since the first case in the OR was typically at 7:00. We were usually done by 4:00-5:00 in the afternoon. The hours also greatly depended on what service you were on.
Each day, we were expected to show up with enough time before rounds to make the list (basically a master list of all of the patients with the most recent vital signs and lab results) and pre-round on 3-4 patients. During rounds, we presented to the chief resident or fellow. Then, when the cases started going in the OR, one student was always expected to be in every case. There were also 2-3 days of clinic per week where we saw post-op patients and new patients for OR scheduling. More so than in other clerkships, Surgery was very hands on. We were allowed to sew, staple, take out stitches and staples, place NG tubes and Foleys, and assist in the OR.
Surgical Recall: This book is a MUST for Surgery! I would recommend getting an ebook format to put on your phone. Then, you can pull it out to read a little in between OR cases. This book came in very handy when I used it to read about a specific surgery before attending it in the OR. I definitely got a few “pimping” questions right because of this book!
UWorld questions: UWorld questions are always great to help grasp the types and format of questions that will be asked on board exams.
Emma Holliday Ramahi’s Review: This video review, which can be found on the UT San Antonio COM website, is a great study alternative to just reading a textbook. It is a quick, high-yield review that is great to watch the day before a final.
Surgery is definitely a unique beast. It is a very fast paced and active medical specialty. Even though it felt like I never left the hospital and didn’t have time for much else besides eating and sleeping, I enjoyed surgery more than I expected. I loved being able to have more responsibilities and do more procedures. While being in the OR with certain attendings was a bit intimidating, I found that the more time I spent in the OR, the more comfortable I felt (mostly being less nervous about doing something wrong and breaking sterile field ?).
Have you done a Surgery clerkship? What was your experience like? Do you have any other questions about what my time on Surgery was like? Feel free to leave your comments and questions below.
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