Friday, February 29, 2008

Trauma Surgery


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 clich├ęs.)

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?”

Patience, Grasshopper.

2 comments:

Daniel said...

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Anonymous said...

For a class I had to choose a blog and write a response to it, I chose yours and this was my response: This blog is written by a medical student who had the opportunity to shadow a trauma surgeon. I chose this blog because that is exactly where I want to be headed with my schooling and one day if I’m lucky enough I would love to shadow a trauma surgeon because that is what I want to do with my degree after medical school. In his blog he writes about his experience and the things he learned about the life of a trauma surgeon. He mentions the variety of surgeries, the action, the fast paced emergency situations, and the on spot decisions that must be made by the surgeon. He said that it was a bit intimidating, and I’m sure I will feel the same but I cannot wait.
This past week I spent most of my time in the trauma unit at a hospital in Las Vegas because my best friend was in a terrible car accident. As bad as the circumstances are, it enlightened me on a lot of things. I’ve changed my mind so many times about trauma because of the heartbreaks I know I will encounter, but being there I was able to talk to the nurses about that and see miracles happen every day and it inspired me to pursue this dream. Being in her trauma room I was able to get to know the nurses and I told them I was a pre-med student, they taught me a lot of things and showed me everything they were doing which excited me to start my career. More importantly, seeing my best friend get stronger and stronger everyday from what should have been a fatal accident gives me all the motivation I need to become a trauma surgeon and this blog has inspired me as well.