Friday, September 26, 2008

On Becoming a General Surgeon

While I'm not going into general surgery, I think I still hold a romanticized notion of the general surgeon as some kind of master-of-the-universe figure who works smoothly and calmly with a high degree of precision. This, despite much evidence to the contrary. Even taking my experiences into account, I never thought the general surgery residency could be that bad. However, this interview on EMPhysician with a general surgeon (who eventually did a vascular fellowship) has me thinking otherwise:

How did you stay sane during training?
I didn't, actually. I just worked all the time. I gained 25 pounds, and developed varicose veins and plantar faciitis so painful, I took analgesics constantly. My blood pressure went up, and despite my best efforts, I could not eat healthy as a resident. I developed prediabetes, and basically ignored my physical needs altogether. It is a show of weakness to express the need for the requirement of basic human needs as a surgical resident. Going to the bathroom was a big deal, actually. My only saving grace was the fact that I was only in my mid/late 20s, and my body tolerated the abuse...abuse that would be difficult (perhaps impossible) to physically recover from for someone a bit older.

I had no hobbies, nor could I engage in any meaningful discussion with other people (outside of medicine), since I had no time to engage in the world activities and issues. I became very one dimensional, and my entire identity became "me, the surgeon."
Keep reading the post for a wide-ranging interview on the ups and downs of training to be a surgeon. Interesting stuff, wish I'd read it a long time ago.

Updated 2015-12-14

1 comment:

  1. Almost totally in line with my experience on the general surgery rotation at our school, minus the homosexuality issues.



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