Medical Students -Tips for Surgical Placement

Surgery Placement Tips - Blog

Surgical placement might seem exciting, yet daunting! You might be filled with questions, and that is absolutely normal! Looking back on my experience I can see what went well, what did not, and all the lessons learnt! Here I would love to share a few tips from my time in surgery:

1. Plan the day ahead: what do you want to do?

You will probably not have a detailed schedule planned just for you (in fact, it might be quite the opposite), but you will be made aware of all the possibilities this placement has to offer. There is plenty to choose from: ward round, clinic, theatre, MDT! Know beforehand where you have to be and when.

2. Eat a good breakfast

As a surgeon told me (and I discovered myself), this is the only meal you are assured to have at a regular time. Don’t skip it (it doesn’t really require a chef to make a good breakfast)!

3. The Essentials

ID/name badge, stethoscope, fob watch, a small notebook, pen. Others: comfortable shoes (do yourself a favour), a bottle of water, healthy snacks (am I the only one that by 10am already wants to eat lunch?)

4. Arrive on time.

Earlier is always better!

5. Make the most of every learning opportunity

If you find doctors that are eager to teach, or with whom you feel you learn a lot, see if you can attend more ward rounds/clinics with them. Take a notebook around to write interesting things you see/learn (no patient identifiable data!): names of conditions, procedures, diagnostic criteria, anything! Ask questions when it is appropriate, surgeons will take an interest if they see you persevere in learning. Practice your examination skills and history taking, present patients to any of the doctors around. If possible, observe them while they do the same (Acute Surgical Unit is a great place) to get you started!

6. Do not be discouraged

Surgery is fast paced and sometimes you will feel lost. You will face challenges; some days might not be as good as other. Take care of yourself and enjoy the journey of learning! I hope that, once placements restart, you will love your placement in surgery as much as I did!

Let us hear your tips!

If you already had your surgical placement, how did it go? What are the tips you would share with others? Comment below!

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