It’s the rotation that I was waiting for since January… the three months which would show me whether or not the career I wanted to pursue coming into medical school was really my best fit. In retrospect, I think it is. 🙂
My surgery rotation consisted of the following:
- Two weeks of emergency center/shockrooms
- Two weeks of pediatric general surgery
- One month of general surgery
- Two weeks of otolaryngology
- Two weeks of pediatric ophthalmology
Whether it was repairing congenital defects in pediatric surgery, performing life-extending Whipple procedures for terminal pancreatic cancer patients, correcting a kindergartener’s strabismus, draining a large shoulder mass in the emergency center, translating a centenarian’s story about how she got her dislocated shoulder, or any of the other countless experiences I’ve gathered over the last three months, the unifying satisfaction I received was being able to provide immediate relief on a patient-to-patient basis.
In a profession of delayed gratification, it’s the ability to use highly refined technical skills to heal patients directly which I find incredibly appealing about surgery. Seeing the anxiety of a patient and their family prior to an operation in contrast to the relief post-operatively… there’s something inherently satisfying about that. Knowing that a patient is trusting his life in a surgeon’s hands… knowing the risks anytime an operating room is involved with treatment… and coming out successfully. Pain well controlled. Chief complaint resolving. Follow-up plan already in place. This is the type of structured career I want.
In addition, as unstable as healthcare in the United States has become, the prospect of falling compensation, current outsourcing, and increasing workload is making many question the idea to enter medicine in the first place. My rationale for pursuing surgery also reflects my primitive understanding of job security in healthcare. In the realm of various medical careers, an individual who possesses a very precise technical skill (as a surgeon) is, in my ever-so-biased opinion, far less likely to be out-of-a-job than other specialists.
Coming into medical school, I wanted to do neurosurgery. The perfection that is the human brain continues to leave me in awe (fortunately, I’m starting neurology next), and the various diseases which plague it have very interesting pathophysiologies; however, after walking through the neurosurgery ICU, it became clear to me that the field was lacking something I inadvertently enjoyed doing as much as the actual surgery – patient encounters. Having the ability to routinely talk to patients and follow them regularly is the second component I seek in a surgical career. For me, otolaryngology (“ENT”) is the perfect combination of patients and procedures. It’s a field which is rapidly expanding, utilizes minimally invasive surgical instruments, and deals with an anatomical region of the body which I thoroughly enjoy studying. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most competitive specialties to match into.
We’ll see how things play out over the next few months. I’m off to a month of neurology! 😀