Wow these last 4 weeks have blown by. Like I've said in my last post, I've seen a great improvement in my practical skills and confidence in doing invasive procedures. It really is true: practice makes perfect!
Because I have made quite an effort to get my logbook signed off early, I took my final week in anaesthetics as a "flexible week". I had a sudden urge to go watch some orthopaedic surgery so I decided to go observe a list. As I walked into the orthopaedics theatre and asked the consultant if I could observe, I was then offered the opportunity to scrub in (which made me very happy). It was so good to be back in orthopaedics and scrubbed in. Geek moment: I was pretty excited while I was scrubbing in. It brought back the good memories I had from last year whilst on my Orthopaedics attachment. Last year, I only helped drape the patient once or twice as there was usually a registrar there, so I would stand back and watch. Let's just say draping a patient for Orthopaedics isn't the "easiest" thing when you're still quite new at it. Because there are plastic walls around the operating area, you really have to be aware of your surroundings to make sure you stay sterile. The draping is also quite the task itself as there are quite a few layers to put on and I will admit that it required a lot of concentration and focus for me to make sure I maintained sterility. When the draping was complete and I didn't screw up, I couldn't help but feel like this:
Anyways, we did an exchange of a total knee replacement. It was fairly straight forward and it was nice being able to assist. Just felt really good. The tasks I were doing were fairly simple, for example, suction, diathermy, etc, but you still feel like you're helping...in a way. At the end I got to do some suturing and close up the wound. Admittedly quite rusty, but after 2 dodgy stitches, I dusted off the cobwebs and got back into it. Of course, being a responsible person, I redid the 2 dodgy stitches (in case you were wondering...). The consultant checked my stitches over and I got the nod of approval and then tidied up. The surgery took about 1.5-2 hours, but it certainly felt much shorter. We took a lunch break and I bumped into my anaesthetic group mates. They noticed that I was looking quite happy and some of them know me quite well could guess immediately that I got to scrub in and assist in surgery. I then bumped into one of my good friends and even he asked why was I oddly happy. When I sat down for my lunch and did a bit of reflection - I really do think surgery is for me. It makes me happy and I really enjoy it. I mean I've seen a few exchange TKRs last year, and it just doesn't get old. Every case is different. We had another operation in the afternoon which was quite straight forward. By the end of the day, I was quite tired and my feet were sore, but I was happy. I felt like I had a productive day. I felt like I learned a lot. I was at the hospital since 8am and got off at 5pm. I would usually be craving to go home, but after the list, I wanted to follow-up with the patients in recovery/post-operative surgical unit. It was a really good day. Probably the happiest I have been on placement this year.
The next day was a huge contrast. I went back to anaesthetics and met up with the consultant anaesthetist at 7:45am. The first thing he told me was that he is too busy and that there won't be any opportunities for me to get any hands-on. He also told me to be prepared to stand to the side for the rest of the day. I couldn't help but get annoyed as I made the effort to come in at 7:45am, ready to learn, and then to be told that I won't get to do anything. I thought the consultant was maybe just over-exaggerating, but I quickly found out that he really did mean it when he said I will be standing to the side. I just stood in the anaesthetic room in one corner and watched everything....and proceeded to zone out. All I could think about was that it was a huge waste of time. Then 2nd case, same thing. I was just stood there. I even asked if I could help out and was promptly ignored. I made the decision that I could be more productive if I went home. By 12pm, I grabbed my bag and told the consultant that I'm going home. He wasn't too impressed that I was leaving early, which surprised me. I was not learning anything and he wasn't teaching. What was the point in me sticking around? I firmly told the consultant that I could be a lot more productive at home and complete some of my assignments. I was fed up and just left. In a way it was rude of me to do that, but at the same time, the consultant knew he was going to have a student around and if he doesn't want a student around, then say something to the administrators so he doesn't get assigned a student. Ridiculous.
Despite the sour ending to my week, at least there was a very high point in this placement, which was unfortunately not anaesthetics related. I'll just treat the orthopaedics day as a treat to myself for getting all my work done early. A few years back, I used to want to do anaesthetics, but this attachment has reaffirmed that it isn't for me. I can see why people would enjoy it, but I really do think I am more suited for surgery. I just enjoy being hands on and fixing things. I enjoy the theatre life, but not sat at the head of the table. My next placement is A&E for 4 weeks. Again, I am quite nervous as I have been placed in the main hospital, which is quite busy. I know what to expect, but I'm not sure if I'm ready for its quick pace. We'll see. I'm excited in a way. Plus more opportunities to work on my clinical skills!