Surgical On Call Experience

For the past four days I have had the pleasure of shadowing general surgeon Commander Anthony Lambert; I was able to observe a take and post take period over the extended weekend. The team of people I spent most of my team with consisted of a consultant, a first year surgical registrar, a senior house officer (F2 doctor) and an F1 doctor. However, during my time I was able to spend time with several anaesthetists, ODPs, nurses and ¬†radiographers. In order to reveal the extent of the 55 hours I spent in these people’s company, below is a list of some of the procedures I was able to observe:

  1. Investigatory laparoscopic procedure
  2. Trauma laparotomy proceeding a self inflicted stab wound
  3. 3 appendicectomys
  4. Colectomy
  5. Abdominal wound debridement
  6. Splenectomy
  7. Perianal abscess removal
  8. Pilonidal cyst removal
  9. Cronh’s stricture (laparotomy)
  10. Female catheterisation
  11. Epididymitis discovery on demand of torsions correction surgery by patient

Without a doubt my favourite experience of the weekend, besides the sixteen hour days of course, was being able to observe a trauma case from start to finish. Barely had I heard the surgical reg’s bleeper sound before we were all walking, with great haste, to A&E. I asked what was going on and was told ‘be prepared, this one’s going to be good’. These words took me aback slightly, I realised that I had been hoping for something dramatic to occur so that I could observe something ‘cool’. But for me to tick off my bucket list for the weekend, real lives had to be affected. I didn’t realise it then but I was about to witness a life changing laparotomy proceeding a self inflicted stab wound.

Being ushered into the corner of the trauma bay, I felt very much in the way of things, Doctors and nurses busied themselves preparing x-ray machines and allocating jobs. Then a paramedic’s voice sounded, detailing the case of the woman being wheeled in behind him. For someone who had just stabbed herself in the lower abdomen with a six inch kitchen knife, I was amazed at how coherent this woman was.

Within just 7 minutes I found myself following the woman to theatre. There was absolutely no humility to the procedure, and as Dr Lambert opened her up I couldn’t help but note the irony in her relatively small puncture wound. The irony was made explicitly poignant when Dr Lambert said she’d missed her inferior vena cava by just 2mm. Other than piercing her large intestine, this woman had gotten away with it (so to speak).

The next morning I was able to see the patient on the morning ward round. Dr Lambert remarked that she’d remember him, litotes at its best. The woman had a scar reaching from her pubis to her sternum; I’m sure she’d struggle to forget!

To conclude this brief overview of my experience, I would like to state that I was also able to observe the less dramatic side of medicine. The ‘take’ of patients in the first three days was done predominantly by the F1 doctor. I was able to spend a lot of time observing how the junior doctor approached patients. He showed what the order of proceedings was in order to determine the diagnosis of the patient. Overall I can honestly say that there was nothing I didn’t enjoy about my four day experience, it has provided me with a surge of motivation to continue down the path to medical school.

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