Friday, February 29, 2008
In a previous post I mentioned the opportunity I had last summer to shadow an emergency physician for several days. As with most things in life, one thing led to another and I was subsequently invited to shadow a trauma surgeon the following week.
(Of course, they eventually figured out that I’m an idiot and consequently, I can never again set foot inside that hospital, but that’s a story for another day.)
Before they wised up and threw me out, here’s what I learned…
The best thing about trauma surgery is the variety. One time you’re doing abdominal surgery the next you may be performing cardiac or thoracic. There is no routine. You’re not performing the same surgery over and over again day after day.
Trauma surgery is where the action is. It is the exciting, fast paced emergency situations that you’ve come to expect on shows like ER or MASH. The injured patient is brought in to the trauma center and you usually don’t know what operation is required until you open him up and can see the full extent of the injuries.
The trauma surgeon has to be able to think on his or her feet and make quick decisions. There is no time to research a procedure prior to the operation. You have to be Mr. Fix-it, Johnny on the spot and a jack-of-all-trades. (I’ve run out of clichés.)
I was very impressed with the overall abilities of the trauma surgeon I had the privilege of shadowing. I’m not afraid to admit it was a bit intimidating. I came away with a better appreciation for emergency medicine overall and for the incredible skills of the surgeons.
You can’t help but ask yourself, “Will I be able to operate at that level of competence?”