Surgery Versus Medicine
Alexa Mieses, Medical Student, 09:46AM Apr 13, 2015
If medicine were the military, surgeons would be the Navy SEALs. They start their day in the wee hours of the morning. They stand in the OR all day, forgoing water, food and bathroom breaks. They remain at the hospital until late at night. They are warriors.
One week into my surgery rotation, and I am both exhausted and pleasantly surprised. Some days I get home at 9 pm and have to return to the hospital at 5am the next day. My back hurts, feet hurt, and knees hurt. I'm a whiner, I know. Whining aside, I actually really enjoy surgery.
Surgery gets a bad reputation among many medical students for the long work hours and intense work environment. Thus far, I have not experienced any mistreatment, and I've seen residents serve as compasisonate physicians for their patients and terrific teachers for their students. I've been fortunate enough to see really cool cases and meet interesting patients. I've also learned to suture, tie knots and (probably the highlight of my week), I was told that I have a naturally steady hand.
Surgery requires as much medical knowledge as any other field but in terms of work ethic, is almost the exact opposite of internal medicine. I just finished my Medicine rotation, and we could spend four hours rounding on ten patients. On surgery, we spend less than two hours rounding on almost thirty patients. Medicine residents want to know every little detail and aspect of a patient's medical history. Surgeons have a more narrow focus (but of course still consider the medical history). Patients on medicine are often very sick, and I've seen patients remain in the hospital for weeks on end and die. Surgeons can fix a patient's ailment and send them home happy.