anxiousnadd

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I decided I would rather start a new thread based on the following comment from another SDNer due to the fact that my question/comment is not related to the OPs question. Not trying to insult the person, but just thought this was pretty much consistent with some of the other med students/residents/attending's thoughts:

If you write a long, flowery, heart-felt composition demonstrating your creative writing skills, it's doubtful that it will score you any points in the application process, and might even make someone wonder if you have the right personality for surgery.
My question from this poor and ignorant medical student is, why is it so horrible for a potential surgeon to be creative, humorous, and actually have some sort of personality that is outside of what is considered "the norm" for surgeons? Not even necessarily with respect to a personal statement, but more so for just my personality in general.

I'll be the first person to say I'm not your typical hard-core-nothing-other-than-surgery-counts type of guy. I really don't see myself changing my personality so that I can fit in, but at the same time, surgery is what I love.
 

Samoa

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The "surgical personality" is more of a survival skill than a personality trait. Sure, you can start out with a propensity for clarity and directness, but even if you aren't that kind of person at the beginning of residency, by the end you will be. At least in your role as a surgeon, if not necessarily among your friends and family.
 
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dynx

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I decided I would rather start a new thread based on the following comment from another SDNer due to the fact that my question/comment is not related to the OPs question. Not trying to insult the person, but just thought this was pretty much consistent with some of the other med students/residents/attending's thoughts:

My question from this poor and ignorant medical student is, why is it so horrible for a potential surgeon to be creative, humorous, and actually have some sort of personality that is outside of what is considered "the norm" for surgeons? Not even necessarily with respect to a personal statement, but more so for just my personality in general.

I'll be the first person to say I'm not your typical hard-core-nothing-other-than-surgery-counts type of guy. I really don't see myself changing my personality so that I can fit in, but at the same time, surgery is what I love.
Nobody gives a **** about your personal statement, flowery or otherwise.
In general a "surgical personality" wouldnt give a **** if another person thought they were too creative or humerous.
The fact that you give enough of a **** about this to start a thread about it says to me that when you really get torn a new one by your attending/chief you're going to be crushed.
 
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JackADeli

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...why is it so horrible for a potential surgeon to be creative, humorous, and actually have some sort of personality that is outside of what is considered "the norm" for surgeons?...

I'll be the first person to say I'm not your typical hard-core-nothing-other-than-surgery-counts type of guy...
The "surgical personality" is more of a survival skill than a personality trait. Sure, you can start out with a propensity for clarity and directness, but even if you aren't that kind of person at the beginning of residency, by the end you will be. At least in your role as a surgeon, if not necessarily among your friends and family.
IMHO the "surgical personality" is a stereotype based originally on the amount of personality dysfunction that was traditionally present in the field. I think more and more PDs are specifically looking for individuals that have values and interests outside of the hospital. Numerous programs will even brag on how diverse the non-medical interests are of their residents.

IMPO, as for a "surgical personality" today, I think it is more of an ability to focus, have clarity, and be decisive. You do not have to be rude or live in a cave. However, you must have it in you to be able to make fairly binary type decisions often on little information. Surgeons do not want to round all day on six patients and discuss twenty or more different treatment plans for a patient and shelf it for a decision tomorrow... With experience, you develop and ability to make the correct decision with less and less information. As time goes on, you will likely find yourself not wanting a great deal of "unnecessary" information. If you require extensive data and "irrefutable" evidence to make a real decision, you likely lack a personality amenable to being a good surgeon...

These leads me to the personal statement.... surgeons are likely not interested in long poetic writing.... We want to be able to know something about you fairly quickly, not get a sun-burn on our backside, and just get to the point with clarity of thought. If you write long poetic stuff, it can suggest you don't know what the position you are applying for is....

my 0.5
JAD
 
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VincentAdultman

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Nobody gives a **** about your personal statement, flowery or otherwise.
In general a "surgical personality" wouldnt give a **** if another person thought they were too creative or humerous.
The fact that you give enough of a **** about this to start a thread about it says to me that when you really get torn a new one by your attending/chief you're going to be crushed.
Gen surg is full of awesome people.
 
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anxiousnadd

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Nobody gives a **** about your personal statement, flowery or otherwise.
In general a "surgical personality" wouldnt give a **** if another person thought they were too creative or humerous.
The fact that you give enough of a **** about this to start a thread about it says to me that when you really get torn a new one by your attending/chief you're going to be crushed.
You're so awesome! I've obviously been misunderstood. I thought I was being clear with my question. The point is not about writing a poem as my PS. It's got to do with a personality in general.

By the way, I love how people make assumptions in this forum based on a question they didn't even read correctly.
 

dynx

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You're so awesome! I've obviously been misunderstood. I thought I was being clear with my question. The point is not about writing a poem as my PS. It's got to do with a personality in general.

By the way, I love how people make assumptions in this forum based on a question they didn't even read correctly.
see? immediately butt-sore. That kind of knee-jerk defensive posturing in response to an ego blow isn't going to go well in a surgical residency.
You'll thank me later.
 

meathooks

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You're so awesome! I've obviously been misunderstood. I thought I was being clear with my question. The point is not about writing a poem as my PS. It's got to do with a personality in general.

By the way, I love how people make assumptions in this forum based on a question they didn't even read correctly.
The proper surgical response to this is: Stop whining and get back to work.
 

smq123

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The proper surgical response to this is: Stop whining and get back to work.
That's not true.

As residents, the proper response is: stop whining, fill out the necessary paperwork, and THEN get back to work. :D



Be sure to leave a copy in the chart.
 
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anxiousnadd

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you're all absolutly positively correct. it's really awesome to attack someone for asking a simple question. it seems to me if you question and/or attack someone for an innocent question (not a comment nor an attack), then you probably are guilty of those very issues. then again, what do i know.

in any case, i've only used this forum in the past to ask questions, and i will keep using it for that purpose and that purpose only.

go ahead and say that i'm defensive, or my ego has been shot down, etc etc. makes you feel awesome to belittle someone in an online forum? :sleep::sleep::sleep: as for me, my ego was shot down day one of my 3 months on surgery. but for some reason i can't seem to get enough...maybe i'm just sadistic.
 

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being quick minded and decisive should be a trait all specialties possess. unfortunately it's not. i think we'd all be better off if more people were like this.

I think you got your answer from the above posters. Creative is nice, but it can't supplant sound, decisive decision making. It can be learned if you don't have it now, but I wouldn't recommend it for a softy space cadet.
 
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SocialistMD

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you're all absolutly positively correct. it's really awesome to attack someone for asking a simple question. it seems to me if you question and/or attack someone for an innocent question (not a comment nor an attack), then you probably are guilty of those very issues. then again, what do i know.

in any case, i've only used this forum in the past to ask questions, and i will keep using it for that purpose and that purpose only.
You are missing the subtext. The responses you've received illustrate why you shouldn't be overly flowery with your personal statement. You want to avoid anything that might generate the type of response seen here from anyone who might read your personal statement, and there are people on this forum (or people like them) who will be evaluating your application to decide if you should be ranked at their programs. Instead of becoming defensive/arguing about how immature and stupid it is to hold these views and attack someone on an internet forum, you should take the responses as evidence for why you should probably stay away from anything non-vanilla in your personal statement.
 

JackADeli

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IMHO ...it is more of an ability to focus, have clarity, and be decisive. You do not have to be rude or live in a cave. However, you must have it in you to be able to make fairly binary type decisions often on little information. ...We want to be able to know something about you fairly quickly, not get a sun-burn on our backside, and just get to the point with clarity of thought. If you write long poetic stuff, it can suggest you don't know what the position you are applying for is....
being quick minded and decisive... Creative is nice, but it can't supplant sound, decisive decision making. ...
You are missing the subtext. ...You want to avoid anything that might generate the type of response seen here from anyone who might read your personal statement, and there are people on this forum (or people like them) who will be evaluating your application to decide if you should be ranked at their programs...
I think those quotes sum up your answer....
...I've obviously been misunderstood. I thought I was being clear with my question.

...I love how people make assumptions in this forum based on a question they didn't even read correctly.
That is absolutely the point. You do not want to be misunderstood in your PS. Flowery and/or creative may seem slick to you but may be completely misunderstood by those reviewing your application. And, yes, surgeons will jump to conclusions on very little information... they may even not appreciate what information and/or interpretation they are applying before making that decision. So, your application may be rejected... purely based off a misunderstanding/misinterpretation from a quick read of your PS. But, you will never know. All you will know is that the program declined to offer you the interview.

JAD
 

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You are missing the subtext.
A good point and reading subtext is an incredibly important skill in any residency. You are about to embark on many years of being judged in very important ways by people whose rationality or alignment with your views has absolutely no connection to their power over you. You have to learn to move within that type of system.
 

meathooks

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Your PS is given little to no weight. It serves 2 purposes: to give the person interviewing you something to talk about (it can get boring) and shows that you aren't a complete idiot since you are able compose a page-long mission statement without it devolving into complete nonsense. Your only job in making it is to make your point clearly and succinctly without presenting the person reading it with giant red flags. No need to get fancy.

I'm not sure if that butthurt report form has been approved by the hospital subcommittee regarding hurt feelings. I would check with a nurse manager or administrative representative regarding the proper way to document that someone has made fun of you over the internet.
 
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so then what types of stuff should be written about in the PS to make it come across the way you guys are saying is good for surgery (ie. so it's forgetable/doesn't stand out)?
 

meathooks

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Don't think too hard about it. All you have to include in your PS is:

1) Your motivation for choosing surgery as a specialty
2) Experiences you've had that reinforce this (interesting cases, volunteer experience, etc.)
3) Why you would make a good surgery resident.

And that's pretty much it. One page single spaced and you're done.

Well there's getting your point across, and getting your point across while going out of your way to be a douchebag.
I think you've done an excellent job of illustrating your own point.
 

SocialistMD

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My question from this poor and ignorant medical student is, why is it so horrible for a potential surgeon to be creative, humorous, and actually have some sort of personality that is outside of what is considered "the norm" for surgeons? Not even necessarily with respect to a personal statement, but more so for just my personality in general.
To get back to your question, there is nothing wrong with it. I'd say that a great majority of surgical residents are creative, humorous (even if only to other surgical residents) and have great personalities. However, those things are generally independent of the core of how well you'll be able to take care of patients. That is the chief focus of program directors when trying to find the next class of interns; they can train and trust dullards who have good judgment much more than they can the life of the party who may be too concerned with making everyone laugh to notice the crumping patient. You don't want to seem like you are trying to promote your personality over your clinical potential, as it makes people think you (a) lack focus on what is important (patient care) or (b) know what is important and lack confidence in your ability/potential and are trying to distract us.
 

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To get back to your question, there is nothing wrong with it. I'd say that a great majority of surgical residents are creative, humorous (even if only to other surgical residents) and have great personalities. However, those things are generally independent of the core of how well you'll be able to take care of patients. That is the chief focus of program directors when trying to find the next class of interns; they can train and trust dullards who have good judgment much more than they can the life of the party who may be too concerned with making everyone laugh to notice the crumping patient. You don't want to seem like you are trying to promote your personality over your clinical potential, as it makes people think you (a) lack focus on what is important (patient care) or (b) know what is important and lack confidence in your ability/potential and are trying to distract us.
I think that is a good way of explaining it.

It's not that surgeons aren't creative or sensitive or full of personality. However, there is a 'vibe' or 'edge' or 'efficiency' (that je-ne-sais-quoi) about a person that seems to "fit" into surgery. There are MDs/med students whom you meet who clearly "fit" into a certain specialty--be it IM, gen surg, ortho, etc. It doesn't mean that traits between groups don't overlap, but just that as a whole, they seem to 'fit in' with a certain group more than others, personality wise. Overall, specialties can be broken up into people with certain traits---there are the "do-ers" vs the "thinkers"; the "fast-movers" vs the "slow but steadys"; etc. etc. Surgery is full of "do-ers" and "fast-movers".

There is nothing wrong with a surgeon being creative and funny...but remember that in your applications, you want to come across as capable, confident and able to communicate succinctly. PDs don't want residents who launch into long winded explanations when a simple "pt developed pain this AM, came to ED, has free air and peritonitis" or "hypotensive and hgb dropped 3 points" will do--whether it is right or wrong, they may interpret a wordy, flowery essay as indicative of a person who takes a long time to get to the point, or attempts at being humorous as not taking the application process--and hence the job---seriously.
 
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Excelsius

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So, from reading the subtext in this thread I was able to come up with the best advice on how to write the holiest surgery PS:


  • First: Make sure you're as laconic as possible. Limit your usage of mellifluous verbiage and preferably skip the entire essay format altogether. That's right, you need to go into bullet format.
  • Second: Make sure that you really put that attending or PD where he belongs as soon as he picks up your hot essay. He needs to know that you are macho. The best way to do this is to not sound like a sissy. And the best way to do that is to use a lot of aplomb, a little unctuousness, and a huge amount of grandiloquence. Have a field trip. Drag your reader down the abysmal trenches of inferiority by utilizing as many abstruse words as possible to lambaste him with your catholic knowledge. Allow him to spend a good hour asking Merriam to decipher your hieroglyphics. Let him know how the ancient Mayans felt before a sacrifice. Let him know who's the boss from the start so that he wants to see you in person to prove to you that his mojo is even bigger (and his sanctity of being a better ass). Instigate the burning curiosity of your PD to meet a true polyhistor and prepare for a shootout.
  • Third: be at least 10 steps ahead of your PD. Show up at the interview ready to go. Take two boxes of items with you, including figures carved out of jello, ice, dry ice, and trinitrotoluene. The minute he opens his mouth to ask you to carve something out of mere soap, you pull a fast one on him and take out your perfectly carved figure made out of solid ice. That will send him back into the trench. Boy, now he'll need to retain you as a residence to further prove to you that he's really better. Well, at least you're in now!
There are obviously further steps involved once you're in, such as making sure that you correct your attending and bring him up to speed on the latest suture techniques, but only when the entire team and the nurses are around. However, you only wanted to know how to get a spot, so the above three steps are good enough for that. Good luck!
 
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SLUser11

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So, from reading the subtext in this thread I was able to come up with the best advice on how to write the holiest surgery PS:


  • First: Make sure you're as laconic as possible. Limit your usage of mellifluous verbiage and preferably skip the entire essay format altogether. That's right, you need to go into bullet format.
  • Second: Make sure that you really put that attending or PD where he belongs as soon as he picks up your hot essay. He needs to know that you are macho. The best way to do this is to not sound like a sissy. And the best way to do that is to use a lot of aplomb, a little unctuousness, and a huge amount of grandiloquence. Have a field trip. Drag your reader down the abysmal trenches of inferiority by utilizing as many abstruse words as possible to lambaste him with your catholic knowledge. Allow him to spend a good hour asking Merriam to decipher your hieroglyphics. Let him know how the ancient Mayans felt before a sacrifice. Let him know who's the boss from the start so that he wants to see you in person to prove to you that his mojo is even bigger (and his sanctity of being a better ass). Instigate the burning curiosity of your PD to meet a true polyhistor and prepare for a shootout.
  • Third: be at least 10 steps ahead of your PD. Show up at the interview ready to go. Take two boxes of items with you, including figures carved out of jello, ice, dry ice, and trinitrotoluene. The minute he opens his mouth to ask you to carve something out of mere soap, you pull a fast one on him and take out your perfectly carved figure made out of solid ice. That will send him back into the trench. Boy, now he'll need to retain you as a residence to further prove to you that he's really better. Well, at least you're in now!

Good luck!
Your first two bullet points were funny. You lost me on the third.

Still, good effort. Also, I deciphered the Hannibal quote in your sig, which I'm pretty sure is in French, and it means "don't poop where you eat," right?


I also wanted to point out that Socialist MD's last post hits the nail on the head. A good personality is valued greatly, but the quality of your work will always be valued more. Very early in my residency, during the interview season, I began to differentiate between interviewees I wanted to have a beer with, and interviewees I wanted to work with.



Anyway, since there is more personal statement talk in this thread, I'm quoting myself from a less popular thread on the same topic:


The general rule is to make it as forgetful and boring as possible so you don't set off any red flags. Of course, I completely ignored that advice.

I made my personal statement actually personal, reflecting on different areas of my personality, and including humor. I don't know how many red flags I raised, but I got plenty of interviews, received several compliments on the letter from program directors, and matched at my #1. Also, I think it helped with my LORs, since I gave my personal statement to all of the doctors that wrote me letters.....if they like you, or think you're special, they're less likely to write you a boring form letter.

There's nothing wrong with being unique, as long as it's a charismatic, functional uniqueness.....but, uh, you know....we're all snowflakes....

Some ideas are definitely over the top, and it's most important that your letter be sincere.....I don't think you should sacrifice substance for some jokes.....
 

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The general rule is to make it as forgetful and boring as possible so you don't set off any red flags. Of course, I completely ignored that advice.

I made my personal statement actually personal, reflecting on different areas of my personality, and including humor. I don't know how many red flags I raised, but I got plenty of interviews, received several compliments on the letter from program directors, and matched at my #1.
I did the same and it was actually brought up at a few interviews that the PS was a major factor in inviting me for interview.

Then again, please see my comments on what Hiram Polk thought of my PS.;)
 

Excelsius

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Your first two bullet points were funny. You lost me on the third.

Still, good effort. Also, I deciphered the Hannibal quote in your sig, which I'm pretty sure is in French, and it means "don't poop where you eat," right?
...
Maybe you haven't heard, but some surgery programs have a very interesting approach to the interview - they ask the interviewee to carve out certain objects from soap or ice. They are probably trying to evaluate how the applicant reponds to pressure and unusual circumstances rather than trying to ascertain how good are the hand skills. That's what I was alluding to.

As for the sig, it's not French at all. It is Latin and means "I'll either find a way or make one" (Hannibal said that when he was told that it would be impossible to drag his army and his elephants across the highest elevations of snowy Alps). This has been brought up before, so before it comes up again, yes, Hannibal would have said it in Punic, not Latin. However, Latin has been the way to communicate knowledge for centuries, before the 1900s...
 

smq123

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Maybe you haven't heard, but some surgery programs have a very interesting approach to the interview - they ask the interviewee to carve out certain objects from soap or ice. They are probably trying to evaluate how the applicant reponds to pressure and unusual circumstances rather than trying to ascertain how good are the hand skills. That's what I was alluding to.
I'd never heard that before. I know some dental schools do that, but I had never heard that for surgery programs.

Interesting.
 

Excelsius

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I did it for Plastics but not general surgery.
This is great. I didn't know we had someone here who actually did this. I guess I wouldn't be too wrong to assume that in your case you were looking at how good the person was with his/her hands. But if you were really trying to judge the person's hand-skills, do you really believe carving something out of soap can at all predict how good the resident will be in surgery? I don't see much connection. Not even a correlation.

As far as carving goes, I have also read some stories about NS interviews. At least plastics are more or less understandable. With NS and other S fields I have no idea why carving is important, except to put the resident under pressure and gauge his/her confidence or asinine characteristics. Carving figures sounds much like making objects out of clay when you go out on your first date. And as far as the comments in this thread go, it would be sacrilege to turn the surgery interview into a poetic-artistic exploration. A carving interview does entail that danger.

I guess we don't have to be limited by artistic expedition either. If your interviewer is hot and from the opposite sex, you might suggest to get together again over the weekend and try the carving again, but this time with mud. Talk about breaking the ice (or carving it) :laugh:.
 

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There are only one or two plastics programs that are known for asking people to carve something at the interview. There is one other that is known for asking you to draw your thumb while you are being interviewed. I don't think they are seriously evaluating the quality of your work, but more trying to see how you react and handle the situation you are put in.
 

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This is great. I didn't know we had someone here who actually did this. I guess I wouldn't be too wrong to assume that in your case you were looking at how good the person was with his/her hands. But if you were really trying to judge the person's hand-skills, do you really believe carving something out of soap can at all predict how good the resident will be in surgery? I don't see much connection. Not even a correlation.
I did it as a student interviewing for Integrated Plastics, not as an interviewer.
 

SLUser11

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As for the sig, it's not French at all. It is Latin and means "I'll either find a way or make one".....
Hence the joke.

I guess we're one and one. I missed the carving joke, and you missed the Latin joke.

:D
 

Excelsius

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Hence the joke.

I guess we're one and one. I missed the carving joke, and you missed the Latin joke.

:D
Hahahaha! Actually I didn't miss it. I was trying to figure out how best to approach it gently. Because if you weren't joking, I would really come off as an ass! So I took the least malignant path.

I thought to myself "if he is really serious, how the F did he come up with FRENCH and that BS translation?" You never know. I'm glad that it was a joke. As a side note, someone sent me a PM a while ago telling me how I was wrong about writing the quote in Latin whereas in fact it should be in Punic! After you see a couple of those, you start thinking twice before asking someone if his/her "knowledge" is a joke.

A good one nevertheless. Hahahaha.
 

Excelsius

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I did it as a student interviewing for Integrated Plastics, not as an interviewer.
So how did it go? Would you call it a masterpiece?

They have these online websites solely devoted to carving figures out of soap and ice. I was thinking it would be amazing to spend a week learning the techniques before the interviews. Then again if the purpose of the interview is simply to see how you respond to stress, the interviewer might be dumbfounded when he sees a perfect masterpiece. I guess some could reject you for being "too artistic."
 

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Well seeing as I didnt match into Plastics...
Hey, there is value in reading old threads: I couldn't see you in a Scottsdale clinic attending to all those sun-damaged 50-ish equestrians and their face lifts. Good on you Sheila, Plastics' loss was your gain.
 

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Hey, there is value in reading old threads: I couldn't see you in a Scottsdale clinic attending to all those sun-damaged 50-ish equestrians and their face lifts. Good on you Sheila, Plastics' loss was your gain.
Don't believe for a second that the Scottsdale breast cancer patients are any less high maintenance or demanding. In the words of one of my plastic surgeon friends, "eventually they all become cosmetic patients".
 

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"You know, I really dislike sleep. Plus, I'm an a**hole and prefer the company of cantankerous characters."- no one, ever.

The point: Like all stereotypes, the surgical personality one exists for a reason. With that said, there are many many counterexamples. I used to worry about the schedule and so-called surgical personality too, until my advisor (who is a surgeon and an absolute sweetheart) assured me that it's B.S. and mostly comes from pointless tough-talk from people who like to feel like they're genetically special because they can operate. The correct way of thinking and the skills can be taught to anyone with the appropriate work ethic, regardless of personality, or so I've been told.

So don't worry- even if you really can't stand histrionics or malignant behavior, there's a program out there for you. If you love surgery, just do it and figure out the rest as you go along.
 
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Winged Scapula

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"You know, I really dislike sleep. Plus, I'm an a**hole and prefer the company of cantankerous characters."- no one, ever.

The point: Like all stereotypes, the surgical personality one exists for a reason. With that said, there are many many counterexamples. I used to worry about the schedule and so-called surgical personality too, until my advisor (who is a surgeon and an absolute sweetheart) assured me that it's B.S. and mostly comes from pointless tough-talk from people who like to feel like they're genetically special because they can operate. The correct way of thinking and the skills can be taught to anyone with the appropriate work ethic, regardless of personality, or so I've been told.

So don't worry- even if you really can't stand histrionics or malignant behavior, there's a program out there for you. If you love surgery, just do it and figure out the rest as you go along.
This is a 6 year old thread; @Danbo1957 was just bumping it to make an irrelevant comment about the surgeon's personality. ;)