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Surviving (enjoying?) surgical residency

Discussion in 'Clinical Rotations' started by e2k, Nov 8, 2001.

  1. e2k

    e2k Member 7+ Year Member

    Apr 10, 2001
    I'm a third-year, and I'm contemplating lots of different specialties. I'd love to do surgery, either CT, Vascular, Orthopedic, or Neuro, but I don't want to be a slave for 6-8 years working every single day exhausted and unable to spend time with my wife or even read sufficiently to understand what I'm doing.

    Bottom line, unless I can find a humane surgical residency, I'm probably going to do Emergency. At least those residencies are 3-4 years at 60 hours a week.

    Anyone know any humane surgical residencies, especially Ortho?

    How do people survive surgical residencies, and why do they suffer that punishment for so long?

    Don't you just end up working hard after you graduate. What good is money if you can't spend it? You can't live only for the thrill of helping patients, or can you?

    Replies from current surgical residents greatly appreciated.

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  3. dochollywood

    dochollywood New Member

    Nov 7, 2001
    New Jersey
    heya... i'm a surgery intern. i'll repeat some advice someone told me.. only do surgery if you cannot imagine yourself being happy doing anything else. I didn't take that advice seriously as i should have and ended up doing surgery. However, i'm starting to realize what a sacrifice it really is. If you love it.. it doesn't matter what the sacrifice is. If your already worried about family... having a life... then choose something else. I'm switching out into anesthesia.... best of luck.
  4. draper

    draper Member 7+ Year Member

    May 2, 2001
    new haven

    Concern over your happiness and life in residency is a very astute realization that you've made in medical school. As the prior reply stated, going into surgery, particularly general surgery, should be only for those who love the OR and can't see themselves doing anything else.

    Unfortunately, many residents weren't able to anticipate the hours and sacrifice needed to complete a general surgery residency. With the exception of a few programs, most surgical residencies will become the overwhelming priority in the lives of surgical residents with 110-130 hrs of service per week during the junior and sometimes even senior years.

    For those of us in subspecialty, life is generally more tolerable. I'm a PGY-2 in a 3+3 combined plastics program and so there is some light at the end of the tunnel for me in a year and a half. That being said, I've enjoyed the operative experience in general surgery but like most people, would prefer to shave off 10-20 hrs/week and get more than just 1-2 days off per month.

    Taking a realistic measure of surgery, sacrifice, your priorities in life, and familial commitments is paramount to being a happy surgical resident. And I firmly believe that for certain people, happiness is achievable during surgical residency - it just requires the right situation.
  5. tussy

    tussy Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Feb 12, 1999
    I'm a PGY1 in general surgery, and i've spent the last 4 months as the "surgery intern". It's been a wild ride, but overall i've loved it. The hours are insane, you get treated poorly, and you feel constantly stupid. I've also broken down in tears several times. But, then i get into the OR, and I know i'm in the right specialty.

    The previous posters are right. In order to do surgery, you have to be unwilling to do anything else. You also have to think about the hours, and be willing to give up much of your free time and all that comes with it for the rest of you working life!
  6. e2k

    e2k Member 7+ Year Member

    Apr 10, 2001
    Dear Hollywood, Draper and Tussy,

    You have given me a great perspective from three different points of view, and made my decision abundantly clear.

    I have been wrestling with this decision for quite a while. When I asked for your advice, secretly I was hoping you'd say something like 'hey, don't believe the rumors, we really only work 80 hours a week'. However, you gave me the truth which I suspect I have known all along.

    Although I find surgery fascinating, it's not the only thing I could be happy doing. I think I'll be quite happy enough doing Emergency and getting the chance to have a life outside the hospital as well. (besides, Emergency seems like more fun anyhow)

    Thanks for your help,

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