Surgeon

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by Pubis, Nov 19, 2002.

  1. Pubis

    Pubis Junior Member

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    Hey.

    I was wondering why everyone, and I mean everyone wants to be a surgeon? Seriously, what is so great about it? Where I go to med school, and where many of my friends do as well, at least half of the students want to be cutters. Why?

    Seems to me that it would get boring really quickly...and that you rely more on your hands than your head. Not knocking surgeons I'm grateful to them (hopefully one day they'll be able to fix me up nice and neat) but...the lifestyle, the hours, the egos...they all suck. So where is the glory in this field?
     
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  3. SomeFakeName

    SomeFakeName Banned
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    I think it has to do with the fact that many people like the IDEA of being a surgeon, but once they hit 3rd year and realize what you have to go through and all the sacrifices you have to make to actually become a surgeon, then most of those people get turned off by it and decide to do something else. It's a lot like your first year or so of undergrad where it seemed like every other person was premed at your university, then by the end most of them had decided to do something else.

    It's all about the naive perception that it would be cool to be a surgeon...a perception that virtually gets obliterated when you're basically living in a hole in the wall known as a "call room" with half a dozen other residents, getting only sporadic periods of sleep for weeks on end, getting berated by overbearing surgical attendings on a daily basis for things you didn't even do, and having to schedule time to see your loved ones.

    Some are willing to put up with it because they really want to be a surgeon (and more power to them because you MUST love it to actually do it), and then there are those who decided that life has a lot more to offer than being a surgeon. It all goes back to what you want out of life.
     
  4. womansurg

    womansurg it's a hard life...

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    There are a lot of sacrifices involved in being a surgeon, and as you both suggested, even more in surgical training.

    In the past, I've referenced the example of a racecar driver. They just lOVE to drive fast....who knows why? There is some strange, probably pathologic connection in their brain to that activity, and they would rather do that than just about anything else. For a lot of surgeons that's what it feels like to operate. My husband can tell within 30 seconds of my arrival at home whether or not I've done a lot of surgery that day - he says I'm in a great mood when I've been operating and depressed if I haven't been.

    Unlike your classmates, I never thought I wanted to do surgery, and just for the reasons you list. Who wants to work around a bunch of jerks all day, never sleep, and never go home? Plus, I thought I was just too cerebral - surgeons were really just the glorified plumbers of the medical world, in my opinion.

    That all changed in about 30 seconds on my first day of surgery clerkship. On my very first case, a bowel resection for cancer, the surgeon handed me the scalpel and said, "you're going to open." Long and short of it: it was the most amazing, fabulous, FUN thing I'd ever done in my life. I had a profound epiphany when I placed my hands into the abdomen and realized, 'my hands are INSIDE THIS PERSON'S BODY!!" To my surprise, I just loved to operate.

    Then, as the weeks went by, I found that surgeons held a very wide medical knowledge base. It's different where ever you go, but at my current institution we have an 'open ICU', which means that everyone manages their own patients. There is no intensivist running the show down there - if you operate on someone, you take care of them. So, every problem that the subspecialists and generalists see: heart failure, complex ventilator managment, sepsis, renal failure, hepatic dysfunction, diabetes....you name it....are managed in our post operative patients - by the surgeons.

    To offer a bit of concrete evidence for of our wide understanding of medicine, our surgery residents have higher USMLE part 3 score averages than the Internal Medicine, Family Practice, or Pediatirics residents, even thought there is barely any surgery on the test.

    Surgery is a hard lifestyle, although with the new mandates and focus on residents rights, hopefully the training part will be progressively less malignant. If you love being in the operating room, then it becomes worth it. If you don't have that funky thrill in the pit of your stomach when you find out there's a case going to the OR with your name on it....then the sacrifices are too great, and you'll likely be miserable.

    Cheers!
     
  5. dlc

    dlc Senior Member

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    Womansurg,
    I was wondering if you could answer some questions for me. First of all, are you a general surgeon? How competitive are general surgery residencies these days? Also, does it really matter where one does a general surgery residency? Does it have to be at one of the top ten residency programs in the country? Finally, how much personal time do you have? Are you in residency right now? Do you have children or are you planning to?
     
  6. i would like to be a surgeon, i dont have any experience or anything but i am definitely looking forward to working all the time, i like it, so i dont think i will change my mind. at least i hope not.
     
  7. ckent

    ckent Banned
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    I hate being in the OR. Sometimes I do think that my classmates who say that they get "excited" by being in the OR are crazy or lying. It's one thing to get excited if you are actually doing the surgery, but I have trouble believing anyone who says that they get excited about being the OR during third yr. My summary of my OR experience during OB/Gyn: Standing in the OR for 5 hrs pulling a retractor back, muscles so fatigued that my arms are visibly shaking, the attending yelling at me for not pulling hard enough, unable to see anything in the surgical field while I have an itch on my forehead that I can't scratch, surgical mask falling off, and I have to go urinate so bad that I can feel my kidneys starting to swell up and getting ready to burst. Yeah, that's what inspired me to go into surgery :rolleyes: .
     
  8. southerndoc

    southerndoc life is good
    Physician Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved

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    Do your attendings and residents not allow you to close the cases by suturing, stapling, etc.?

    Are you not allowed to participate in the case? Do they not allow you to feel abnormalities and such?

    Yes, it's true, we are responsible for holding retractors, but those usually aren't prolonged as you describe. Most of the surgeries I was in on we used holders like the Bookwalter.

    To me, being in the OR was a huge excitement. Why? Because I actually enjoyed the process of scrubbing in. I thought it was cool to be in sterile attire. I also found it cool calling out instruments and having them handed to me by the scrub tech. Evidently my surgical experience was different from yours. I was allowed to participate in the surgeries, and nearly all closures were done by me.

    I'm definitely considering surgery.
     
  9. DrBlueDevil

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    Whatever man...it seems like both are pretty intellectually unstimulating. You fix a broken (insert body part here) 239842398 times or you treat the flu/diabetes/hypertension 29834723984 times. Sooner or later, you realize you're not doing anything new no matter which way you go. It makes me wonder why schools are so interested in premeds who did research in college...
     
  10. hotbovie

    hotbovie Member

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    There's just something about surgery that some people really like. (I liked the race car driver anaology). My first real exposure was during my M1 year, the first time I got to scrub was on a trauma case, and I loved it! I was actively involved in the case, holding bowels out of the way as the source of profuse bleeding (I'm talking blood pouring out onto the floor) was identified. It was far better than poking around in a cadaver during gross anatomy (which I also thought was fun).

    Yes, I had some days during my 3rd year surgery rotation during which I held a retractor for hours, arms shaking, not being able to see anything (those days I looked at the anesthesiologist, sitting in a chair, reading a magazine, and thought, hmmm...). But those days were very few. Most of the time I was allowed to be an active participant in the case. And I realized that if I did anyting else, I'd be wishing I was in the OR doing the case. There were a couple of times that they let the chief take me through a simple case.

    But other than enjoying the OR, there are other aspects of surgery that I enjoy. Surgeons tend to be efficent, getting to the heart of the matter quickly and fixing the problem (no endless debates during 5 hour rounds over mind numbing trivia- surgeons do more in less time than anybody else I can think of). Surgeons often deal with life threatening, acute problems that no one else can handle (when your GI bleeder goes through 6 units of blood in 2 hours, who you gonna call?). Surgical patients often have complex medical problems which must be managed as well. Where I go to school, the surgeons manage their patients even in the ICU (residents rotate through several ICU and the attendings follow patients both in the ICU and on the floor)

    And there are different areas of surgery that appeal to different types of people. Some folks are content in a small town, doing routine hernias, laparoscopic gall bladders. If you want more variety, there's the academic medical center. Plus a wide variety of fellowships. Want something cerebral? Try transplant ...transplant surgerons are responsible for the vast majority of advances in immunology research.

    And most surgeons are also nice people too. (OK, there are still some old school egotists around, but that is changing rapidly, with most new hires from a crop of surgeons with a new, improved attitude). With the new work hour limits, a surgery residency shouldn't have any worse hours than any other.

    Having said all that, it's defintely not for everybody. And thank God...I'm glad some people like the specialties I don't like so that I don't have to do those things.
     
  11. surge

    surge Medicinski Znanstvenik

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    Greek Medic and hotbovie, do you mind me asking what schools you are at? I know it can depend on the attending, but because of my extensive surgery (animal: canine) experience, I am virtually certain I will end up in a surgical specialty, so I would like to keep these things in mind (I'm applying to med school right now). Also, are there any other ways to get an idea about clinical exposure and experience students get at a particular medschool, especially specifically by area?
    Thanks, S.
     
  12. AlternateSome1

    AlternateSome1 Burnt Out
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    Hey...
    I can honestly say that I have no desire to be a surgeon. I plan on going into IM at this point.

    ~AS1~
     

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