Today the resident let me close. At University Hospital this rarely happens, partly due to the plethora of trainees willing to snipe even the lowliest of OR duties and partly due to the climate of our times. At the local VA, though, students get to do a bit more – but even there, closing a case is something that might only happen every few days or so for students in the ORs.
So, needless to say, by the end anesthesia is getting antsy (the guy wanted to get to the gym in time for some basketball game), the patient is basically ready to take the needle driver and suture themselves, and the scrub nurse and circulator have even run out of small talk. It took a while. Sure, there was one air knot that had to be redone, and I had to redo one or two of my subcuticular stitches. I’m not perfect, and I was closely supervised (and I wouldn’t want it any other way), but I took the time to get it right.
As we’re wheeling the patient out, the anesthesiologist looks at my ID and says “Wait, you’re a medical student?” [Uh oh, I know where this is going]
“Yeah” [Next she asks for my name, and then I find myself in front of the dean for suturing too slowly and then you can find me flipping burgers at the local Wendy’s]
“What? You’re kidding … what year are you?”
[Swallows pride and all hope of become a doctor]
“Are you, like, going into surgery or something?”
[Great, now this guy is going to insult my career choice and demoralize me …]
“Yeah, I hope to.”
[Deep breath. Look for nearest box of kleenex]
“You did a really good job with that closure, it looked awesome”
[That sound you just heard was my jaw clanking on the floor]
“Thanks, thanks a lot.”
“No, really. I was impressed.”
You don’t get a lot of accolades as a third year medical student – even when you do well, you’re just doing things that everyone else takes for granted. Consequently, it doesn’t take much to make by day, and that definitely did the trick. I thanked him for being so patient with me while I was suturing, and finished wheeling the patient into the PACU. A nice end to a nice day.