Monday, 6 July 2015

Surgical round-up

Block: Obstetrics & Gynaecology, week 3

Whoops, I fell behind again. Here's how the rest of that surgery block went:

Breast surgery

Perhaps it's because they're seeing ladies who are quite often very anxious about a lump, but the breast surgery team struck me as a compassionate and friendly bunch. The consultant we were under for two weeks was a really good guy and was keen to get us involved in examining the patients. This was very useful since up til then the only time I had ever performed breast examinations had been on a mannequin during first year OSCEs! This placement hasn't convinced me to become a breast surgeon but it was an enjoyable two weeks and I had a good time and felt like I learnt a great deal.

ENT surgery

Back when I was in sixth form I completed three hospital work experience placements - one in immunology, one in coronary care, and one in audiology. During the audiology placement I was fortunate enough to be able to spend a day with the ear, nose, and throat team. I would say that that single day was the most useful work experience I did and it was from that which I based the bulk of my personal statement.

Fast forward seven or eight years and I got to go back to ENT for another fortnight. Ears are quite a specialist area which you don't really see much of elsewhere in medicine (unless you're a GP or an audiovestibular physician) so I was glad we were able to get some experience in it. The ENT consultant we were under was quite possibly the most simultaneously chilled out and enthusiastic doctor I have ever worked under - definitely a great advertisement for his specialty and a very enjoyable two weeks. I don't really wish to be a surgeon, but if I did I think ENT would be one area I'd be happy to work in - good mixture of medical and surgical cases, no rectal exams (seriously), wide age range of patients, most patients see an improvement in their quality of life...what's not to like?

Shame you have to put up with other surgeons and trainee surgeons before you get there though, which brings me onto...

Colorectal surgery

For the final two weeks of our placement we went back to the firm we originally started with. The consultant here was nice enough, if rather taciturn, and his registrar was rather more talkative...but not in a particularly helpful way (as described in my previous post).

I'm not sure what it is about surgical training that seems to encourage this sort of attitude - the bluntness, the lack of engagement with ones juniors except when it comes to grilling them, the gleeful pouncing on any misstep in the recital of some obscure piece of anatomy, etc, etc. Perhaps it's because surgery involves comparatively more rote memorisation (procedures, anatomy, etc) than other specialties, that it ends up breeding neuroticism and competitveness about who can basically be the best parrot when it comes to memorising anatomy. Or maybe it's something else entirely and I'm just being too precious.

Either way, that was my last surgical placement of medical school (O&G does involve surgery, but it also involves a lot of medical management so it's not pure surgery). I have enjoyed the experience and found the range of patient conditions and presentations interesting to clerk in and read about, but ultimately I don't think it's really for me!

Final thoughts

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