Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Outpatient Surgery and Orientation

This is my first week of surgery, and I have outpatient subspecialty clinics all week. Starting next week, I will be on inpatient surgery. The rationale for having this outpatient week is that I am supposed to try to scrub in for a surgery in each surgical subspecialty. So far I have done one half day each of orthopedic surgery, breast surgery, and ENT (ear/nose/throat, also called otolaryngology). I also had orientation this morning along with one other student who is starting surgery this week with me.

The ortho clinic was really cool, and the attending spent a lot of time teaching. He had a whole collection of replacement joints. Some were modern, and others were the kind that got used a few decades ago. We also looked at several x-rays, and he showed me what to look for to identify osteoarthritis. I'm not very good at reading x-rays, but even I could see the jagged edges of the cartilage in a patient with severe osteoarthritis. The breast clinic wasn't as exciting. I've already done several breast exams, so there wasn't much new. I did get to see some mammograms. It's hard to see the calcifications if you don't know what you're looking for. ENT was pretty cool, but it's also kind of disgusting. One of the patients had an in-office nose procedure, which I got to watch. Another had a sinus infection. We put a scope up his nose into the infected sinus, and when I looked through it, I could see all the green, infected mucus up there. Wow, that was gross. No wonder that patient was in pain!

The orientation was this morning. It wasn't all that exciting. First, we saw a video that I swear was made in the 1970s based on the clothing and hair styles. It was describing sterile technique and the importance of sterility in the operating room (OR). Then we got a tour of the ORs, and there are lots of them. There is also a stairway I didn't know about until today that leads from outside the ORs straight down to the cafeteria. That's a useful stairway to know about! Then we were given scrubs and lockers up in the ORs. Unfortunately, we have to share them with other people. Seeing the ORs again has gotten me excited for next week. I'm a bit nervous too, because surgery is so different than anything else I've done since I started med school. But I think this is going to be a very interesting month.

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