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Surgery resident seeking help...

Discussion in 'Anesthesiology' started by LMC, Feb 25, 2007.

  1. LMC

    LMC
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    Hey everyone. I'm confused and overwhelmed by my current situation, and was hoping you all could give me some friendly advice.

    I'm currently a categorical general surgery intern at a program in NY. I basically went to medical school so that I could become a surgeon, and never seriously entertained any other career choices. Now that I'm 8 months into my intern year, I've realized that I made a mistake. Surgery is not nearly as exciting as I thought it would be, and I'm looking to make a switch. I did an anesthesiology rotation a few months back, which I loved. Turns out that the stereotypes I had in medical school were not as accurate as I thought.

    So, now I think I want to switch, but there are a few problems. I was a fairly average medical student (middle of my class, 212 on Step 1, 232 on Step 2) and don't know how competitive I'd be for anesthesia. Second, the timing is bad. I wish I'd figured this out earlier, because I fear there will be no spots to switch into for 2007. I could stay in my program another year and then re-apply, but would I do so through the Match or outside of the Match? Do I tell my program director that I'm not happy in surgery now, or do I wait until I have another spot secured? (I'm pretty sure he'd keep me on for next year anyway, as he'd be hard pressed to find a good replacement for me now.) How do I get LOR's for anesthesia, since my med school ones are all from surgeons, and I'll probably need new ones anyway? How would I go about looking for open spots in anesthesia? Is it even possible for a surgery resident to switch to anesthesia, or would the programs not take me seriously?

    I know these are a lot of questions, but I feel very lost... any advice you guys have would be much appreciated! Thank you!
     
  2. bullard

    bullard Senior Member
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    I'd bet you're competitive for anesthesia, but you're right, your timing sucks. You're probably looking at another year of surgery before you can make the switch.
     
  3. powermd

    Physician Lifetime Donor Verified Account 15+ Year Member

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    Ditto on the timing issue.

    We had an intern from one of the surgical services get a spot at a very desireable program in NYC this past fall within a few weeks of investigating his options, but he may not be able to start until 2008. It's doable, so I would cast a wide net and use whatever contacts you have to get an interview at an anesthesia program in your area. You could get a letter from the site of your original rotation in anesthesia, or just cozy up to the anesthesia attendings at your residency institution. My guess is they'd be more than happy to write you a letter if they sense that you're sincere.

    Kimberli Cox over on the surgery board has written extensively in the past about surgical residency, and what to do if you think you made a mistake in choosing surgery. Her posts are worth a read.
     
  4. johankriek

    johankriek Membership Revoked
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    If i were you.. I would call every single program director and state your case.. im sure someone has a spot they wanna fill
     
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  5. bubalus

    bubalus Member
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    I'd recommend either calling program directors, or sending a CV and cover letter to every program director. It's probably too late to get a spot starting July 07, but it could happen. There's probably a good chance of getting one for 2008. You could try and contact programs with 2008 CA1 openings through the scramble that's coming up, and you could always reapply this fall. Reapplying would put you into your CA1 year in 2009, but with a good chance of finding an open spot as a CA1 in 2008.

    I'd definately suggest sending the CV and cover letters out. You can get all the info off FREIDA and use Microsoft Word to make a personalized form letter. It would probably cost under $100 to send the CV and cover letter to every PD and it might really pay off. It's something you could do in an afternoon.
     
  6. VolatileAgent

    VolatileAgent Livin' the dream
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    well, surgery internship year is not a good indicator of what you'll actually be doing when you advance in your training. are you really sure you want to switch?

    hmmm... rings a bell...
     
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  7. johankriek

    johankriek Membership Revoked
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    Im sure you could get spot at like a king drew.. or a brookdale... or a cook county.. not great programs.. but programs nonetheless
     
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  8. OP
    OP
    LMC

    LMC
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    Am I sure that I want to switch? As close to sure as I can get, I suppose. I know that internship year is not even close to what I'd be doing as an attending surgeon. What really makes me sure that I want out is that when I open up the OR schedule on my e-mail at night, I find myself hoping I'm not on the schedule to operate the next day. It's not the long hours or the stress that I mind- it's literally doing surgery all day that I don't like. But I do like dealing with surgical patients and surgical issues, and I do enjoy working under extreme pressure. I like doing procedures, and I love critical care (my plan was to do trauma and/or critical care after residency.) But I see my fellow interns fighting for time in the OR, and I think the fact that I feel the exact opposite is very telling.

    By the way, thanks so much for your replies, everyone. I really do appreciate your advice during this difficult time.
     
  9. VolatileAgent

    VolatileAgent Livin' the dream
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    i'm not convinced this isn't a self-confidence issue. is it just that you are afraid that you can't do the procedures? sounds like every other part of the job is not bothersome to you. what gives?

    i ask this because there are going to be times you are the one who has to get the line in a patient. you know, the peripheral stick on the deconditioned 75-year-old diabetic woman with no veins and the consistency of the michelin man who's anxious to boot. there's going to be times when you've gotta stick the a-line in, no matter what. or, you've gotta get that subclavian in to float that swan-ganz. or, you gotta hit that femoral nerve block... etc. etc.

    and, there is a hell of a lot of book-learning to do in anesthesia. so, if it's because you don't want to do the homework for surgery, then don't be fooled. you could probably eek by in a program somewhere, but you aren't going to pass the oral boards. and, no boards, no good job.

    i ask you all these things because probably right now anesthesia seems like the greener pasture. still, i know of a few who've made the jump over the curtain as you're proposing and are quite happy. just really search your soul first and know why it is that you don't want surgery first. and, be honest with yourself. it might simply be the hours that you don't like, or the thought of dealing with b.s. all day long. that's okay. a lot of people choose anesthesia for these reasons, but don't be fooled into thinking that it's an automatically easier field to go into. it has it's own fair share of stresses and b.s. believe me.
     
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  10. OP
    OP
    LMC

    LMC
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    I really appreciate your advice. You make some valid points, but none of them are really the problem. I'm a very confident girl, and I've gotten nothing but praise about my performance in the OR. I believe I give off the appearace of the typical surgical resident, and I have no doubt that I am capable of doing the job just fine. But I just don't like operating as much as I thought I would. Detailed technical dissections are not for me; I find them boring. I'm looking to go into a field where I can use my brain more than my hands. I don't mind working 30 stressful hours doing patient care in the ICU; what I mind is spending 12 hours standing in one position hunched over the OR table doing a dissection. I really enjoy procedures, and thrive under pressure, and I never had any exposure to anesthesiology until 2 months ago when I did a 2-week rotation. To be honest, the reason I never entertained the notion of anesthesia before that is because I didn't really understand the job, and I didn't have much respect for them. Now that I have a better understanding, anesthesia seems to be a better fit for me in many ways, not just a way to an easier lifestyle. But I appreciate all of your concerns, as they are valid points for many people. Thank you for the advice!
     

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