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Med Student Exposure to Trauma

QofQuimica

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    I'm curious about how many trauma cases people see while in medical school. The thought of seeing a lot of trauma cases does not excite me, and in fact somewhat disturbs me. I do not want to see tons of people who have massive injuries due to fires, car accidents, heavy machinery, gunshots, electrocutions, etc. This would particularly disturb me if the victim were a child. I realize that I will probably have to see SOME trauma cases, but I'd definitely like to avoid making a career out of it. For those of you who are doing your rotations or electives, what was your experience with regard to being exposed to trauma cases?
     

    Law2Doc

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      QofQuimica said:
      I'm curious about how many trauma cases people see while in medical school. The thought of seeing a lot of trauma cases does not excite me, and in fact somewhat disturbs me. I do not want to see tons of people who have massive injuries due to fires, car accidents, heavy machinery, gunshots, electrocutions, etc. This would particularly disturb me if the victim were a child. I realize that I will probably have to see SOME trauma cases, but I'd definitely like to avoid making a career out of it. For those of you who are doing your rotations or electives, what was your experience with regard to being exposed to trauma cases?

      What do you mean by "exposed"? Most places won't have you actually working on any sort of traumas in at least the first two years of med school, but if you spend time in certain parts of the hospital, you'll likely see them. In any ED you will see trauma, a lot of it gets sent up to surgery. Gunshot wounds and other internally lodged blades and projectiles may need radiology consult. And certainly if your hospital has a burn unit this place will get a lot of the fire and electrocution type stuff. I suppose you can look for a school in a not particularly densely populated area, without a shock trauma or burn unit, to try and minimize the traumas you see. But this is kind of real medicine and you would be shorting yourself if you tried to avoid stuff like this during your learning years.
       

      .edu-MD

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        QofQuimica said:
        I'm curious about how many trauma cases people see while in medical school. The thought of seeing a lot of trauma cases does not excite me, and in fact somewhat disturbs me. I do not want to see tons of people who have massive injuries due to fires, car accidents, heavy machinery, gunshots, electrocutions, etc. This would particularly disturb me if the victim were a child. I realize that I will probably have to see SOME trauma cases, but I'd definitely like to avoid making a career out of it. For those of you who are doing your rotations or electives, what was your experience with regard to being exposed to trauma cases?

        It'll also depend where you go to school. Most of your rotations will be home rotations so if you go to a school in a big city (thus with hospitals in those cities), you'll get a lot more violent trauma (take a look at this year's "most dangerous cities" list that was just put out: Camden/Philly, Detroit, St Louis...but any large city will do). Even if a hospital is in a "nicer part of a city", most university-based hospitals run level 1 peds and adult trauma centers. So especially if there aren't other level 1/2 centers around, they'll get the major ones brought to them. Even in the small/mid-sized cities, the university-based hospitals (since they're likely level 1 centers), will be the facility to which all major traumas will be either flown to or referred to from a very large catchment area. However, I suspect you'll really only see the unstabilized cases during your ED and surgery (trauma surg) rotations. If you come across these patients in any other unit, I would imagine it would be as "graphic" as when seeing them when they first present.
         
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        emack

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          I have sympathy for the OP; I feel the same way. It seems that everyone in my class is a cowboy who can't wait to get emergency/trauma experience, whereas the thought just makes me nervous.
           

          Trader56

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            emack,

            Don't feel bad.
            Virtually all of what your classmates are expressing is false bravado regarding something the vast majority have absolutely no experience with.

            You see the same thing with young soldiers who've never seen combat - sounds cool untill you've seen it, and what it does to people.
             

            QofQuimica

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              emack said:
              I have sympathy for the OP; I feel the same way. It seems that everyone in my class is a cowboy who can't wait to get emergency/trauma experience, whereas the thought just makes me nervous.
              Thanks for responding, everyone. This is exactly where I'm coming from, also, except that I'd say the thought (and the reality) makes me feel sick rather than nervous. :oops: I've spent some time riding an ambulance and hanging out in an ER, and I already know that EM would not be a good specialty for me. I also understand that my med school may require me to do an EM rotation, but this would be a limited scenario both in terms of time and procedures that I would be performing. I can certainly suck it up for two or four weeks if I'm required to do so. What I guess I *don't* understand is why and how so many people seem to be so enthusiastic about the very thought of it, as this poster said. So that was why I was curious about just exactly what you all are seeing and doing as medical students.
               

              robotsonic

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                QofQuimica said:
                What I guess I *don't* understand is why and how so many people seem to be so enthusiastic about the very thought of it, as this poster said. So that was why I was curious about just exactly what you all are seeing and doing as medical students.

                I hadn't seen any trauma until I started my surgery rotation... and then I fell in love with it. Trauma cases provide the rare opportunity to see someone save a life. Seriously. The guy with a tension pneumothorax may die if you don't get a chest tube in. If you stay confident, calm, and work with the team, you may save his life.

                I got to see a lot of trauma because I did my surgery rotation at a hospital that was known to get a lot. You will probably have a choice about where to do your rotation, so you might want to pick one that doesn't see so much.

                Oh, and I have since decided to go into surgery, so I might be the type of person who just likes this stuff.
                 

                Law2Doc

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                  QofQuimica said:
                  What I guess I *don't* understand is why and how so many people seem to be so enthusiastic about the very thought of it, as this poster said.

                  A lot of people find this kind of medicine exhillarating because unlike the chronicly deteriorating cases you will see elsewhere in the wards, the trauma is something faster paced, with an obvious cause, an immediate problem to solve and a fairly rapid resolution (one way or the other). It gets the adrenalin running for some, and lets those "hands on" types actually deal with something they can "fix" (or at least try to stabilize for someone else to fix). Other types of cases don't net the same kind of immediate result gratification. Most people cringe at the sight of traumas early in their careers, but ultimately find a way to get past it.
                   

                  Hodad

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                    Trader56 said:
                    emack,

                    Don't feel bad.
                    Virtually all of what your classmates are expressing is false bravado regarding something the vast majority have absolutely no experience with.

                    You see the same thing with young soldiers who've never seen combat - sounds cool untill you've seen it, and what it does to people.

                    It's actually cooler once you've seen it... :D
                     

                    BaylorGuy

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                      amk25a said:
                      It'll also depend where you go to school. Most of your rotations will be home rotations so if you go to a school in a big city (thus with hospitals in those cities), you'll get a lot more violent trauma (take a look at this year's "most dangerous cities" list that was just put out: Camden/Philly, Detroit, St Louis...but any large city will do). Even if a hospital is in a "nicer part of a city", most university-based hospitals run level 1 peds and adult trauma centers. So especially if there aren't other level 1/2 centers around, they'll get the major ones brought to them. Even in the small/mid-sized cities, the university-based hospitals (since they're likely level 1 centers), will be the facility to which all major traumas will be either flown to or referred to from a very large catchment area. However, I suspect you'll really only see the unstabilized cases during your ED and surgery (trauma surg) rotations. If you come across these patients in any other unit, I would imagine it would be as "graphic" as when seeing them when they first present.

                      This sounds mostly true. Every hospital is going to get some sort of trauma. Bigger, inner city public hospitals are definitely going to get more than private hospitals or those in less populated areas....but there is going to be different types of trauma depending on where the hospital is located.

                      Oh well, QofQ....who knows, you may like it?? :)
                       

                      QofQuimica

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                        BaylorGuy said:
                        Oh well, QofQ....who knows, you may like it?? :)
                        I may also get a sex change some day....but it isn't very likely. ;)

                        Well, it is good that at least *some* of y'all like to care for trauma patients. I'll just hope neither I nor my loved ones ever have to see you in a professional context. :p
                         
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