Surgery Rotation | How to Prepare + Tips

Monday, January 2, 2017

I can't believe I'm already about to start the 2nd week of my 4th rotation (Emergency Medicine)! My previous rotations were two family medicine rotations and surgery.  A lot of students, including myself, are nervous for their surgery rotation. I actually really liked my surgery rotation, except for the early hours (I had to wake up at 4:15AM every weekday morning). During my surgery rotation, I was able to scrub in on many surgeries (laparoscopic appendectomies, lap cholecystectomies, bowel resections, gastric bypasses, lipoma excisions, etc.), suture lap port sites, and maneuver the camera during laparoscopic surgeries. It was a great experience! Here are some tips and things you can do to prepare for your surgery rotation:

1. Brush up on your suture skills. // Practice simple interrupted subcuticular and running subcuticular sutures since those are most likely the types you will use to close lap port sites. Make sure to practice suturing while wearing gloves to mimic the real thing!

2. Practice tying surgical knots. // Make sure you can tie one-handed and two-handed surgical knots. Again, wear gloves while practicing! I used this video to learn two-handed knot tying and this video to learn one-handed knot tying. You can start out by practicing with shoe strings and then move on to sutures. You just need to tie the shoe string or suture to something stationary. 

3. Helpful books // I read Surgical Recall and Case Files Surgery during my surgery rotation and I found them very helpful. You can find used copies of them on Amazon for cheap. You don't need to buy the newest editions. I recommend reading the first few chapters of Surgical Recall before starting your surgery rotation because it gives you a good introduction to surgical instruments and the OR.

4. Fill your pockets! // On your first or second day, try to fill your white coat pockets with gauze, ABD pads, lubricant, and other supplies. The interns and/or residents will always be asking you to run and get something, so it is easier if you have them on you. Also, make sure to keep some snacks in your white coat pockets!

5. Don't touch anything blue! // Blue = sterile. Don't touch anything blue in the OR unless you are scrubbed in!

6. Learn to scrub in and gown. // You can search on YouTube for videos on how to scrub in and gown. The process can vary from hospital to hospital, so on your first day, ask someone to show you just to be sure.

7. Prepare for cases. // Try to pick up an OR schedule for the next day, so that you can prepare for the cases. Look up the basics about each surgery: indications, complications, anatomy of the region, etc. You don't need to know the details of how to perform the surgery - just the general idea. 

I hope you found these tips helpful!


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