It’s been about a year since I last updated and what a year it has been! Since then, I finished my 3rd year courses, started my 4th year off with a clinic month, and survived 5 externships! I really did not appreciate what upperclassmen and residents meant when they said that “you are the smartest and at your peak at January..then it all goes downhill from here!”. The amount of knowledge that you gain from outside rotations serves to enhance your learning experience. For instance, as dumb as it may sound, I did not really understand the concept of absorbable vs non-absorbable sutures. Yea I could tell you that Vicryl takes 80-120 days to be absorbed and that you should use Prolene to close skin in infection cases because it’s least reactive, but those were just facts I memorized. However, after a few surgeries it made sense as to why you should close the capsule with absorbable vs skin with non-absorbable, or use Monocril for a cosmetically pleasing scar. Little things like that just click after seeing it in front of you.
The biggest issue I faced when starting 4th year was adjusting to the approach of externships. My classmates and I were well versed in clinic, we had great skills and could work fast, but a hospital rotation is a whole different ball park, especially when you are aiming to please residents, attendings, the director of the program, and a whole number of other people. It’s pretty difficult to get used to an entirely new system every 4-5 weeks. You spend a whole month learning what is expected of you, adjusting to multiple personalities of the residents, trying not to get lost in the hospital or while commuting to different surgical centers, and then..it’s over. You say farewell and move on to start at a new place with new faces with new convoluted directions all over again. Repeat five times and you are ready to take a well deserved break. Let alone studying for procedures the night before and trying to squeeze in studying for Step 2 and interviews. Oh, and did I mention to keep a smile on your face? Not a painful grimace despite your painful kidney stone due to dehydration or stomach growling because you haven’t eaten since before rounding at 6 AM. 🙂
Despite the…enticing portrayal that I have painted in your mind with my description of externships, it isn’t always like that. They’re actually quite a lot of fun in the fact that you have moved on to a completely different step in your life and are learning things that you want to learn, not force fed on a PowerPoint in the classroom. Even if you make a mistake in the OR or don’t know the answer to a question, it isn’t the end of the world. The upcoming posts InshaAllah will cover some tips and quips I’ve picked up over the past several months. ‘Till next time!