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Surgery Questions

Discussion in 'Clinical Rotations' started by relentless11, Aug 27, 2001.

  1. relentless11

    relentless11 Going broke and loving it Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Mar 30, 2001
    Hello folks. I'm curious as to what a surgeon's life is on average. Currently i am looking into Emergency Medicine and/or Pediatrics. But i remembered that surgeons also rotated through the ER now and then, so...thats something i would like to look into or atleast be educated about.

    Surgery is something that i would like to do someday, but if it means reduced time at home with family, i gotta say no on that one. So i'm just wondering on your take on that..also about the residency too. I understand that its a 6-7 year program plus a year or two more for a specialty.

    But then i figure, if i do a EM residency + Peds Residency, or do Peds residency and Peds EM would take about the same amount of time anyways..hehe.

    So why not do surgery ;)
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  3. Firebird

    Firebird 1K Member 10+ Year Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    There are countless topics that have covered this topic, especially about surgery. Try a search for "surgery lifestyle" or something like that. It should yield several in depth topics.

    I'm a pre-med student, so I have zip experience, but I'll relay a little surface info for ya; for anything more in depth, try the search.

    You're right about the length of surgery residencies and fellowships. It's a long training program, but it's probably produces the best all-around physicians (or at least the most knowledgable).

    As for EM and Peds, this exact topic was just discussed recently, as well. Again, try a search.

    But on the surface, you would definitely get finished on an EM/Peds residency (no matter how you did it) before you would on a surgery specialty. And there's no comparison of the lifestyle of a surgeon and an EM doctor.

    From what I understand, surgery attendings work 60-80 hours (that may be conservative) a week, are on-call every three or four days, and have probably the most stress of all the disciplines.

    EM, on the other hand, works less than an average person--36 hours a week (divided into three 12 hour shifts). Then you're never on call after your shifts. I would imagine stress levels would depend where you a very metropolitan area, stress would be higher because of a higher trauma rate. In a rural area, you'd be treating minor injuries, colds & flu, and an occasional trauma and/or major resusitation (I always forget how to spell that).

    Now, granted, surgical compensation is higher. But they deserve it, haha.

    I think I've told you most of the basics. Look for the other threads to find out more in depth info.
  4. fourthyr

    fourthyr Member 7+ Year Member

    Jul 22, 2001
    A question you should ask is.... do you want and NEED to be in the operating room.

    The only way you can know is watching surgeries, getting that burning feel in your feet, that gnawing in your belly, that ache in your back, and realizing the time commitment away from your family/friends. BUT, also taking into consideration you won't be standing there with your thumb up your butt. You WILL operate, some day, IF you become a surgeon.

    To get a feel for operating... try some suturing... try participating in the OR (when you get to your clerkship in surgery). Try imagining doing what the surgeon is doing. Watch trauma Life in the ER/(surgery). If you like it, and NEED it, then consider surgery.

    Another aspect that overlooked is that surgeon's spend a significant amount of time with their patients (in and out of the OR). Patients recognize their surgeon not only cuz they invaded their body, but cuz they spent time with them fixin' a pretty significant problem.

    If you feel that the OR is NOT needed in your life.... hands on skills can be found in various fields, like ER... but with much less time committment.

    P.S. This statement was not thought out at all. It's a stream of consciousness, as I'm getting late for working out and getting to my ER shift.

    But, I'm going into gen. surgery and my dad's a surgeon... so I have some perspective on surgery.. but... I'm sure other, more well-informed opinion's exist......

    I'll write more later.....
  5. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic! Staff Member Administrator Physician Faculty Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 15+ Year Member

    Apr 9, 2000
    hSDN Member
    Just some brief thoughts on the time commitment:

    General Surgery training is a minimum of 5 years in length. Most academic programs will have additional 1-2 years of research/lab requirements/suggestions but you can finish in 5 years at many places.

    I would say that we easily work longer hours than most other residencies - this is not my own personal view but is widely shared by my colleagues in other departments. Your hours as an attending will vary depending on your specialty; most attendings take call on a week to week basis, trading off rounding with the team (if hospital based) or seeing outpatients, taking call with their partners. If you choose a surgical specialty like Trauma you can pretty much expect to be called in and often having to operate or at least supervise the management of traumas. If you choose something like Plastics or ENT your hours may be less, but again it depends on the patient case load and environment.

    As for why not - it takes the same number of years to do Peds/EM, well the answer is that those years of training will be MUCH less painful in those two fields. No call or home early post-call is the norm; less hours worked a week, more vacation time, etc. The total time length in years may be the same but it will seem much longer when you are working 30-40 hours a week more than your colleagues in other departments.

    Most people who shy away from surgery do so because of the family issues; male and female alike. The earlier poster who suggested you'll never know until you do it is absolutely correct. If you find that you enjoy nothing else then you will have a tough decision to make. I ask myself everyday why I'm doing this, but on the rare occasion when I do get into the operating room the answer becomes clearer (I hesitate frm saying clear as I'm so tired that operating no longer holds the joy it once did. I'd often much rather be sleeping.)

    I'm sure you'll find that with experience the field will declare itself for you.
  6. relentless11

    relentless11 Going broke and loving it Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Mar 30, 2001
    Thanks for the valuable input you guys. I'll keep them on my mind when i eventually figure out what i'll really do. I'm just throwing some ideas around now, till i become a 3rd year student or something(lets get into med school first..thats my priority..haha).

    I did observe an aneurysm repair at my schools med ctr. Roughly 9hrs long. The things i noticed were yes, boy my feet started hurting by the 4th hour, and i was getting hungry. Hehe.

    However somehow, the surgeon, even though he was a professor, as well as the chief of vascular surgery, he still somehow made time that day to go home to watch his son play baseball.

    But yea, i'll see how it is when i actually get in close and personal with the career. THanks very much.
  7. Billie

    Billie An Oldie but a Goodie... 10+ Year Member

    Nov 30, 1998
    Cleveland, OH
    just had to throw my rural two cents in :)

    Being out in the sticks, it can depend on the hospital how busy you are. I am interested in EM, and we are the only hospital around for miles, so besides the colds and flu we get the stabbings and the gun shots and the MVA's and the 4 wheeler accidents from the mountains and the MI's and the CVA's and the drug overdoses etc etc etc About the only things we have to ship out are traumatic brain injury and cardiac caths

    Can't beat life in the sticks :D :p
  8. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic! Staff Member Administrator Physician Faculty Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 15+ Year Member

    Apr 9, 2000
    hSDN Member
    Not suprising. Actually the Chiefs often operate very little and do less hours on the whole than their staff, at least less clinical hours. Perks of being the big boss I guess! :D

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