“You should be a surgeon”.

May 1, 2015 § 4 Comments

It’s an absolutely beautiful day in Budapest. May is here and that means one thing: exam period is coming! Registration on Tuesday went really well. I used my little tricks and had registered for all of my exams within 40 seconds or so. When it was over, panic began to settle in. All of a sudden finals are real! For the first time I’m taking a big exam on the first date. Last year I took the physiology final on the first Wednesday, but it doesn’t feel the same since we had to study physiology so consistently during the semester (we had two quizzes every week, one on lecture material from the previous week and one on the lab material for that day). My exam dates are as follows:

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With the pathology final so early, I have to go super exam-mode from now. I’ve known for a while that patho would be my first exam (it was just a matter of getting a spot during registration), so I’ve been studying patho for the past few weeks already. My plan is to get all my topics together and then spend the last week just reviewing and memorizing. I am already feeling so nervous about it….I really hope the anxiety doesn’t get too great.

Yesterday we had our second laparoscopy practice in surgery. There are two competitions in our Basic Surgical Techniques class: (1) suturing and (2) laparoscopy. During the laparoscopy practices, we were timed while completing various tasks and the person with the best time was selected to go to the competition. For the first practice, we were tasked with using one hand to organize different colored rolls of paper into bowls and then to place the cap on a needle. For the second practice, we had to move colored rings from pegs on one side of a board to the other, passing them between the tools on the way, and then back again. At the exam, this needs to be done in under 2:30. During the first practice, I had pretty decent times: 0:31 for placing the paper rolls in bowls and 0:05 for placing the cap on the needle. The peg board with the rings was by far the most difficult task. We trained for about 40 minutes and were then timed by either the teacher or visiting teaching assistant (TA).

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I was feeling pretty nervous, even though I am already exempt from the exam after the suturing competition. Even though I was shaking a little bit, I started singing a song in my head to keep me calm and then just systematically went through the motions. All those hours spent playing Skyrim and Assassin’s Creed in the past must’ve paid off because I managed it in 1:09. I didn’t really realize what this meant until people around the room started reacting in disbelief. I later learned that the record last year was 1:23 and that someone had beaten it the day before with a time of 1:21.

After some exclamations were made, my teacher said something that probably meant nothing to her, but everything to me, “You should really be surgeon.”. Lately I’ve been pondering the concept of talent quite a bit. There is this notion that there are certain careers or lifestyles that people are meant for and sometimes I worry that, because I am such a hard worker, that I will never know what I am truly, inherently good at. I’ve been worried that maybe I don’t have a talent for medicine/medical school and that later down the line I’ll learn that the only reason things went this way was because I kept pushing for it. In the end, I guess it doesn’t really matter. I have such a passion for medicine, I love studying it and I look forward to a career in it. At the same time, I feel sad thinking that there is something I have a true talent for that I will never discover because I am always pushing in other directions.

I’ve put so much pressure on myself in this surgery class this semester because I know that I want to be a surgeon but have been worried that I don’t have a talent for it. Whenever people have asked me what kind of doctor I want to be, I’ve always told them a surgeon and then added that I have to “see if I’m good at it first.”. My little successes in this class have made me start to believe that it is possible that my passion and talent might one day be the same. My teacher saying this seemingly simple sentence to me meant so, so much to hear. Hopefully it’s the beginning of a long and exciting journey.

I won’t be partaking the laparoscopy competition (due to my previous exemption), but it feels good knowing that I could have. In the grand scheme of things, this is nothing big, but it has fueled a little fire burning inside of me and for that I am grateful.

Now it’s time to go exam period mode for the weekend. I’ve started out the day with an intense workout and filling breakfast and am ready to dig into patho. I have quite a few emails from blog readers to reply to that I will be responding to during my breaks (just in case any of you are reading this – I haven’t forgotten!). I’m looking forward to spending the next 72 hours in my little study area 🙂 Since today is Labor Day in Hungary, my studying will be accompanied by the sounds of the air show taking place down by the river. At least I won’t be alone!

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§ 4 Responses to “You should be a surgeon”.

  • constantina says:

    best of luck with exams 🙂

  • Tony Fiorentino says:

    In my opinion: physicians who rely simply upon accumulation of medical knowledge to attend to clients have already reached their level of incompetence. Educated clients with access to cyber space can duplicate and exceed the discreet knowledge required in an office visit. I find I already know what my internist is going to say and what he is going to prescribe. In addition patients have intimate knowledge of their bodies and the history that led to their conditions. This reality is reflected in the new stress on “second opinions” by health insurance providers and Medicare and Medicaid in the US. Doctors in the UK implied my US doctors were wrong; doctors in the US implied the UK doctors were wrong. There is too much knowledge and too much being created by the hour for one physician to be fully up to date.Reliance will be on the combined opinion of many experts coded into AI diagnostic systems. Only the surgeon is likely to escape this trend. The ability of the human brain to refine expertise and respond to second by second changes in circumstances is not likely to be replaced any time soon by computer systems. However with the same factors the necessity of physicians to be navigators in the expanding cyber-medical world will increase as more and more people rely on WebMD, eMedicine and many other similar sites to direct them in their own search.

    Whether you find you like becoming a surgeon or not- you have already shown you have the aptitude and talent to be a navigator for others – to be someone who can explain the medical facts and help others in their search for knowledge

    • Buda B says:

      Well said, Grandpa 🙂 It will be really interesting to witness the evolution of medicine in the upcoming years. Hopefully I end up in a specialty that challenges me and helps me grow. Love you 🙂

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