Did I mess up?

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2+ Year Member
Jun 2, 2017
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I've been shadowing a neurosurgeon of late...it's been going well, and he seems to like having me around. Unfortunately, I think I made a gaffe today...here's what happened:

1. I was allowed to spend time in the cadaver lab (which only happens 4 times/year at this university, so for me...once in a lifetime). I observed the residents a little bit, and then asked if I could try what they were doing. They consented. I observed some more...and a female resident, who was working on the cervical spine was doing something really cool with this scooping device (I forget the name)...so I ask her if I can also "scoop some of the stuff"...at this moment, I regretted even opening my mouth as I realized how amateurish I sounded. She responded somewhat sarcastically saying..."what stuff are you referring to?" and kind of smirked as she looked up at her fellow resident.

2. I was connected with a very nice medical student who was also in the cadaver lab, and he gave me some valuable tips about the interview process in medical school (the do's and the don'ts). However, I got the feeling that I asked too many questions, not just to him but to one of the residents:

a) To the resident, I was trying to get an idea of what the lifestyle was like for a neurosurgery resident, so I asked what a typical day was like. He kind of gave me a generic answer like "it varies."

b) The med student was the most patient of the group and went out of his way to give me advice on things regarding applications, etc.

c) Here's where I really think they thought I was a ******...this one resident was complaining that he had been sick all last week...so I asked in surprise, whether he had to come in while he was sick...he smiled (half laughed) in return saying "yes."

Do you think I overstepped? Should I send a formal apology to the residents?


Full Member
7+ Year Member
Apr 21, 2013
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I feel like this is only the beginning of subjectively embarrassing things that may happen during your medical career journey. There's a lot to learn, and you are just learning. Everyone starts somewhere, and even mature people learn things all the time.

Also, the "scooping device" was probably a curette.


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10+ Year Member
Nov 16, 2010
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Nothing to worry about. You asked appropriate questions even if they did seem quite amateurish. Cookies and food in general go a long way in making it up to overworked and hungry residents.
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