Chester is participating in the Debakey Summer Surgery Program through the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston this summer. The program is designed to provide students with an opportunity to work with faculty, surgical residents, medical students, and nurses. During the eight weeks, students become familiar with the hospital environment, the operating room, and the lifestyle of a surgeon. They are expected to become an integral part of their surgical teams by participating in rounds, surgery, and conferences.
In the Operating Room
Life at the VA is still the same demanding work, and I am still really enjoying it. It is nice to be able to wear scrubs all day and always be on the move and not confined to a desk.
After morning rounds, we spend most of our time between the OR and visiting patients between cases. We have about three or four cases every day and usually they are all different. As more time has gone on, I have been able to have a more productive role in the operating room. There have been times that we have two OR rooms, and therefore the residents are so spread out that I am able to be the first assistant to the attending. In addition, the team has taken time to show me how to properly close all the different layers of the body. I have developed to a point where they now expect me to do this without being guided.
In addition, every Tuesday and Thursday we have lectures about different fields of surgery. Today we had a lecture about trauma, and I have added another job to my list of specialties I do not want to go into. I am about halfway through this program and still would highly recommend it to those who feel strongly about being a surgeon, for the program really shows you if you can handle it.
After being with this team for a few weeks I have come to understand that it is not just all work and no fun. These guys are always making jokes, taking ‘some’ time off, and can even act like college students at times. They have been so nice to me and treat me as if I was a first year resident (which at times is not so good, especially if I don’t know the answer to their many questions).
My first two weeks on the job
One of the main goals of The DeBakey Program is to show students what life is really like as a surgeon. After the first day, this task was accomplished.
I have been assigned to the vascular surgery team at The Michael E. DeBakey Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Houston. I have learned and experienced so much in just my first two weeks.
Long days, hard work
One of my realizations is how difficult it is to be a good general surgery resident. I have predominantly been following the three residents whose team I am on. We start our morning rounds on Monday and Wednesday at 5:30 a.m. and all other days at 6 a.m. What I quickly came to find is that this does not mean get to work at that time, but be fully informed about every patient and be ready to contribute by the time rounding starts.
I also came to see that this profession is not an eight-hour-a-day job, but it should be expected to work at least 12 hours a day, especially as a resident. While realizing all of this, I also came to understand more about myself.
First, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. Yes, it is a lot of work and being a doctor used to be more prestigious and profitable 10 years ago, but if that is your viewpoint, you were never fit to follow this profession in the first place. Then some argue that you will be wasting your 20s and working 100+ hours a week. True, but again that all depends on your perspective. Any good job will have you working 100+ hours for your first few years.
Life as a surgeon does not confine you to a cubicle; it allows you to be in control of a surgical staff, and you could have your office (as in my present case) be the second-largest federal building in America. I think those who will be getting constantly bossed around, stuck in an office cubicle, memorizing numbers or prices, and merely working on business power points will be the people who might be wasting their 20s.
A surgical professional will be saving lives and doing something noble and respectable no matter what field a person develops into. Again, it is how you look at life that determines if you a fit to be a medical doctor.