Thursday, August 06, 2009


A few days ago I looked up my record to see if I’d passed my surgery rotation. I did! I wasn’t sure if I had, primarily because of the following story:

The Surgery Story

It was a pleasant Monday. I was rounding with my team, including my surgeon. The surgeon who I believed I’d be working with that morning. Because he’s the surgeon we always work with, and the one that the schedule told me I’d be working with. We’re rounding and one of my residents turns to me and says I should head down to surgery. Turns out the chief resident was doing the surgery, and had specifically requested a student be at the surgery. Was I told this? No.

I head to the surgery. I enter the operating room and the resident has already started the procedure. I ask if he wants me to scrub in, and he chews me out a bit and says it’s too late. He already started. So I leave to find another surgery to assist.

I enter the surgery library and call my team to let them know I’m not at the other case. I tell them that the resident didn’t want me to scrub in because he’d already started. The surgeon gets on the line and says sarcastically “Well I wasn’t there on time, does he not want me to scrub in either?” Not wanting any undue friction I say “I don’t care that Anonymous yelled at me, that’s fine. I can find another case to help with.” The unfortunate nature of that wording didn’t occur to me at the time.

I had meant that I wasn’t protesting Anonymous’ rebuke, would go with the flow and continue working. The resident sitting across from the table interpreted “I’m not going into surgery, so don’t care what surgeons say to me. I’ll go do what I feel like doing.” But he doesn’t say anything to me.

I find another surgery, as I was instructed to do. I am working there for ten minutes or so and my pager starts to go off. I’d been told that there is really no reason why I should leave surgery, so I don’t bother the nurse to check my pager. Turns out the Library Resident had immediately called Anonymous and reported my flagrant disrespect for surgeons. Eventually both of them walk into the surgery I was helping with and tell me to find them after surgery.

I find them, expecting that he’s going to tell me I need to answer pages. Instead he threatens to fail me. He’s tired of me being late (which happened once, when I wasn’t told about the surgery) for being rude (I believe I apologized for being late to the surgery I didn’t know I was to be at, but I may not have) for not knowing about my patients (which he’d never asked me about) and most importantly for saying that I didn’t care if he yelled at me. It’s only at this point that I realize what that comment sounded like. I try to explain this, but he’s not really in the listening mood.

Luckily, I was at the beginning of a 30 hour shift, so never really got to sleep this off. The next day I finally get to go home, only to discover as I’m leaving that they want me to come back to the hospital for a meeting at 6. I send an email to Library Resident asking if I should attend, since according to school policy I should have the rest of the day off after working 30 hours. I also ask if there was a dress code for the meeting (“Street clothes? Tuxedos?”), because I don’t want to show up under/over dressed. Basically I don’t want anyone to notice me at this point. He replies with an email criticizing me for being unprofessional. He found the tuxedos comment offensive.

I go to the meeting, because despite having worked 30 hours already, I’d just re-pissed off the people who grade me. The meeting goes fine.

The next day we have a lecture block. I show up and another resident asks if my presentation is ready. My presentation? Oh the one he’d mentioned on the first day of the rotation, but never gave us a date or further information about. That one. The one that 4 of the 5 students hadn’t done. One of us had, but he’d been working with that resident the afternoon before and he’d finally said something about it. Just to the one student. Who didn’t pass the information on. We were informed that we were the only group of students to ever not prepare these presentations.

Surgeons, I don’t understand you. I don’t understand how you can be angry so much of the time. I don’t understand why you want everyone to know everything you know, without telling them. I don’t understand why you hate me. May our paths forever remain in parallel, never to cross again.


anna. said...

hah. i have no idea what it's like to work in a hospital, but i hope it's like "scrubs."

love this story, btw.

Anonymous said...

My advice (and yours): You aren't going into surgery, so don’t care what surgeons say to you. Go and do what you feel like doing.

Lindsay Anne said...

But Turk on Scrubs is nice, and I've heard that actual medical people say Scrubs is the most realistic medical show.