3rd Year Medical Student On Surgery Rotation

by Jason

Just ran into my friends who is a 3rd year medical student. She just completed her surgery rotation and had a lot to say about this specialty and what medical students are put through.


All I can say is the horror stories about surgeons are true.

Let's begin with how long you'll be at the hospital.

Expect to start your days before the sun comes up and to go home when it's dark. She was awake at 4:30am and had to round on patients, get lab results, perform physicals and be prepared for when the team rounded later in the morning about 6am.

Her days were nonstop and constantly on the go. There wasn't a break or time for anything. You're either in surgery, preparing patients for surgery or rounding. That's the life of a surgeon.

Plus days didn't seem to have an end. She got home around 8 or 9 PM. You heard that correctly. The day started at 4:30AM and did not end until 9PM. Talk about needing your stamina.

That apparently was her down fall.

My friend told me she actually fainted 4 times while on her surgery rotation. I didn't believe her at first but it actually happened. I had to ask her what happens when you faint.

Apparently, then just send you down to the Emergency Room for a workout to rule out anything such as a heart attack and then when cleared you're back to work as a medical student on your surgery rotation. The reason for the fainting came down to being dehydrated and not having time to eat or drink.

You'd think having time for a quick bite to eat would take place but it didn't.

She said she carried water and protein bars and whatever else she thought would be edible while on surgery. So I asked then why didn't you eat the food you had with? She said well there was no time. And when I had just enough time to grab something to eat from my pocket there wasn't enough time to use the purell hand sanitizer before doing so.

I thought that was crazy but it's the life of a surgeon.

I asked so what happens when you faint.

She said she knew when it was coming on and would get dizzy, hot and need to sit down. It even happened while rounding and presenting a case to the Chief Resident. She said, "i'm getting dizzy and then fainted," luckily her colleagues caught her before falling.

Another time she fainted in the operating room. The surgeon was upset and said, "you need to eat and stay hydrated." My friend the third year medical student was thinking well you surgeons never give us a break or time to eat.

I think surgery is a field where you have to suck it up and take what is dealt to you. It's rough and very unforgiving.

I asked her about being in the operating room. She said she actually liked it a lot but wouldn't want to be a surgeon instead wants to do trauma, and critical care. So it was never an issue of not having the ability to be in the operating room.

She said she always wore cutoff shirts under her scrubs because by the end of the day she would be sweating.

Sweating because of running all over the hospital seeing patients, getting labs or rushing to surgery. Apparently, the operating temperature is cold and she enjoyed the environment because she could cool off. But the bad part is when you're under the operating lights it can get hot too.

I told her I wonder why they don't have lighting that doesn't get hot...something I should invent if not already out there.

But there are benefits to sweating and being dehydrated.

My friend said she was the skinniest she has ever been. And this was without going to the gym in over four months. The surgery rotation totally changed her.

And then there were stories about physicals on patients.

It's 5AM in the morning and she walks into a dark room and see's the patient is handcuffed to the bed. The gets closer and is startled to see a police officer in the corner monitoring the patient. She before proceeding she wants to know what she is dealing with and asks the cop what's his deal and finds out it was "traffic violations."

She sees right though this line but what is she to do. She has a job to perform and wakes the patient to get the history and physical completed.

She's out the door and on to round on the next patient and six more patients to see without time to eat and alas she feels her body temperature rising, the room starts to spin and she's...

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