’10 Things I Learned from Daily Shadowing US Surgical Residents’


For those that are not clear what residency is about or what it even is.

Residency is a period of your life during which you undergo intensive training to become a specialist in a field of your choosing. Yea, I love the sound of that, because it automatically frames the approach I’d like you to have while reading this post. Prior to this experience, I had heard so many converging and diverging opinions about what a residency in surgery is, most of them being geared towards the negatives and hardships, as a sign of warning or “Beware of Surgical Residency in the US”! But today, I can’t be grateful enough for having had this experience of being with surgical residents for a period of time and sharing into their daily living. That was the only true way I could make an opinion on this topic for myself, and here are 10 key lessons I learned.

 

1. During Residency, you are being trained to become someone greater than who you already are.

 

 

And think about it: you go to a specific program “to be trained” in a specific speciality. This implies that the goal is to make you become a person greater than the person you were when you started. Now, people often think that training is limited to “academia”, and thus ignore and pass on any opportunity to be trained at life: in reality, while you’re learning to take care of your patients, you also have to deal with a) families who need reassurance that everything is going to be OK, those who will soon learn that their child will be permanently disabled from a failed procedure or those to whom you’ll have to break the bad news of their father passing. And then, there are b) colleagues who pass on their frustration to you or those who are not as efficient as you’d like them to be. Let’s not forget the c) Chiefs and Attendings who hold you to high standards of performance as you climb up in the ladder of your training, and any other entity that you may encounter.

That being said, you learn to take blows and receive them with grace, you learn to assess your reactions to situations and apply critical thinking in emergent situations, and you learn to solve problems on the spot. All these are opportunities for greatness.
2. Surgical Residency Training Will Challenge You.

 

 

 

“What doesn’t challenge you doesn’t change you”. One of the reasons why this type of residency training is so “tough” or “difficult”, has to do with the fact that it challenges parts of you that were never challenged before, and pushes you to greater heights. A surgical resident told me “training would stretch you mentally, physically and emotionally to levels that you would not expect”. And that is completely OK. If you’re not pushed, you will not grow, you will not learn and you will not achieve your full potential. So do not resist the force.

3. You “need” a Support System.

 

Getting into residency is almost like getting into a marriage. You can’t get there alone, with no one to back you up, or catch you when you fall. Ever wondered why there are “witnesses”, best man and maid of honor at weddings? Because those are the first people that are supposed to be there for you when you can’t be there for yourself, and re purpose your focus so that you can get back on track when the boat is rocked. During residency training, you are married to medicine. To your patients. To your colleagues. To your attending physicians. To your chiefs. And so, you need support outside of that circle. You need someone to talk to about your good days and your bad days. For some people, that support system is a wife, a husband, an amazing bae. For me, that support system (during my experimenting days) is God. Whoever it is, pick your support system, because you cannot bear the weight of 5-6-7- years of surgical training alone. A lot of people have been burned out, and you don’t want to be one of them.

 

  1. Know Who to Rant to

 

This goes hand in hand with point #3. Let me make something clear to you. Someone who shares the same struggles, the same fight or the same enemy as you is not necessarily your friend. In life, you will meet people who you connect with because you’re at the same stage in your life, or you share the same difficulties and you can relate. That does not mean you are friends and you get to share your deepest pains, secrets or complaints with them. At most, you are colleagues or allies. And that is again, why it’s very important to have an outlet, a person (outside of work) who you can share openly with. You need to have someone who has your back. For me, again, that person is God. In fact, I’d talk to God in a prayer, anytime my mind felt like it was going south. I’d scream, yell or cry, but I’d let it out to God.

 

  1. Be a Team Player

 

“Do onto others as you’d like them to do onto you”. When your co-resident falls, you pick him up. No questions asked, no strings attached, no venting. Everyone makes mistakes, and cohort training requires solidarity and unity. Even though we’re trained to be competitive and to always outdo one another, you need to learn how to be a team player and really work for the greater good of the team. Because at the end of the day, you can fly high if you fly solo, but you won’t go very far.

 

  1. The First Year in Residency is one of the Hardest

 

This is no news, it applies in all fields: just like the first year teaching, the first year away from your family, the first year in the army, etc. It’s the groans of new beginnings, but you get used to it because you learn how to embrace it and manage it.

 

  1. It Gets Better

 

I find it very enriching to talk to residents at different stages of their training, because it gives you an idea of the mindset at different levels. The point of view of a first year resident is not the same as that of a third year, 5th year or final year. With that being said, no matter how hard years 1 and 2 were, some residents kept going on, and they had a reason to. It gets better, or you just get better at it!

  1. You don’t need clothes

 

The first things that I told myself after a few days in the unit was “I will have to sell all my clothes” and “I can live on five outfits per year”. You literally stay in scrubs for more than half of your day. Everyday. For the entire week. This means that technically, the only time you’ll need a new outfit is to go to church on Sunday (or Saturday), or to grab a bite with friends one of those nights. Otherwise, you’ll live in scrubs for the next 5-6-7 years of your life. Same style. Same size. Same color.

 

  1. You Learn to Appreciate Small Blessings.

 

After my first week on the ward, I never thought I’d ever appreciate seeing my family, taking a warm shower or having a homemade meal like I did on the weekend of the first week. When you’re always on the go, sleep for 4 hours, eat quick meals and take quick showers, you really do learn to be grateful for the days when your meals, showers and sleep time were longer. Intense training has a way of making you be grateful for little things that you so often take for granted. Wait, you will see.

 

  1. Sometimes, you wonder what’s the hardest: being the doctor, being the patient or being the patient’s family.

 

There have been so many situations when I have had to ask myself that question, but I am yet to find the answer. What I found, however, was that I so often was swamped in my own internal complaints about how sleepy, hungry, tired or annoyed I was that I never got the time to think about Mrs Jane Doe who is anxiously sitting in the waiting room, wondering, hoping and praying that her husband survives that life-threatening surgery; Mrs. Janette Doe who comes to see her disfigured daughter in the intensive care unit everyday, fighting for her life after a severe head trauma on her way to school, or Mr John Doe, whose only sister just got paralysed from a motor vehicle accident. Sometimes, you wonder if you really have the worst part.

If you’re planning on doing surgical residency training in the USA, this article is for you. Do whatever is in your power to secure an observership or subinternship in a program of your choice, so you can actually “experience” the life of a resident. Nothing compares to living this yourself. Whilst it is advisable to listen to people who have walked that walked and talked that talked, do not be discouraged by the negative opinions or warning signs: everyone has a different experience.

 

PS: I am not a lifestyle or career blogger. I am a travel blogger, but I felt the need to share this piece on this amazing blog, to all those who can benefit from it. With every post I write, I always aim at encouraging one person to pursue their dreams. If you want to feel inspired by my travels and be motivated to live life to your full potential, make sure you check out my blog and subscribe Here . Feel free to email me! 🙂

Love,

Clem!

 

Diary of a stressed house officer| 5 coping tips. 

Hey guys! How’s it going?

I’m currently in Lagos for just two days. 😦 I wish I could stay longer but i have to go back to work on Monday, yes I’m aware it’s a public holiday but when you’re a Doctor, public holiday is nothing exciting. It’s just another day. Especially if you’re on call, it’s pretty much like a weekend call. 

Anyway, im home and wide awake so I decided to type this post. 


Let’s get right in, shall we?

1. Prepare your mind for the worst. 

I don’t mean to scare you but it works well for me. I prepare my mind for the worst and  nothing can really surprise me anymore. Just know it’s going to be one long year and once you’ve accepted the fact that you’re in for struggle, you’ll be fine.

2. Eat. 

I really have no shame for confidently writing this because I have a terrible eating habit. I go from not eating to binge eating and the cycle goes on and on. It’s very easy to be overwhelmed with work and forget to eat. Yes, I didn’t think it was possible to forget to eat either until I started housejob. Have snacks in your bag. Work can go from zero to one hundred real quick and before you know what’s happening, it’s 8pm and you’ve not had a proper meal all day. 

3. 

Be nice but not too nice. 

I know it’s like I’m contradicting myself but I started house job with the ‘I’m going to be nice to everyone’ mentality and it didn’t take long for me to be like ‘uh fuck it’. Nigerians don’t like nice people. Nigerians respect you when you’re mean and you yell. Sadly. I mean, I’m not saying disrespect anybody but don’t let people walk all over you especially the nurses because they tend to think they know better and they always want you to do what they want you to do but if you really know what you’re doing, they can’t bullshit you into doing anything. Bottom line is know what you’re doing and stand your ground. Respectfully tell them to do their work and do yours. Nurses can be your best friend and your worst nightmare. 

4. 

Don’t forget to read. I can count how many times I’ve opened my book to read. You’ll learn everyday and it gets overwhelming sometimes but get a small notebook and write down things you see/hear/learn so you can find time to go over them. I can’t promise you that you’ll find time. From being on call and not sleeping to doing 5hour ward round to being yelled at. Honestly, all I think about is sleep. I can’t come and die. Housejob kinda makes you better at clinical skills than theory because who has time to read honestly? 

5. 

Rest. Rest. Rest.

I know this might sound like a foreign term to you but you gotta find time to rest. Even if you have to ’tissue’ to sleep. Do what you gotta do smartly. Except you’re ready to overwork yourself and burn out/collapse. I’ve heard stories from people i know and random people of how doctors faint at work from exhaustion. How sad is that? I have friends that have collapsed at work. It’s really not that deep. Do your work but try to rest. If you’re known to do your work well, no one can fault you for taking some time off to rest. I know it’s hard for some people *coughs*. I’m a workaholic and I barely rested these past few months but hey, even if I can’t take my own advice i can help someone out there! 
I hope you enjoyed reading this post. 

Want more tips? 

Drop a comment!

– TOSIN 

Medicine in Nigeria. 


I don’t even know where to start the rant from tbvh. 

We have a big problem in the health division of this country.  Doctors work like slaves yet we get peanut salaries. 

We are overworked constantly. Maybe I should stop generalizing this. 

I am always angry everyday. 

Do you know how exhausting it is to be angry everyday?  I know someone has whispered that  ‘you’re in control of your Hapiness’ bullshit.’ Thanks for your input sis, I’m aware but when you work for 48hours straight and they are still blowing up your phone to do something for them, my first response is not ‘I’m in control of my Hapiness. So I’m not going to be angry’ my first response is ‘what kind of rubbish is this? Are there not rules in this place? Are you freaking mad? 

People (senior colleagues) need to stop taking advantage of we the junior ones. It’s disgusting tbh. Frankly, I don’t care if one of them read this post. It has to be said. 

Not only do we get sent on stupid errands, which is very unprofessional btw but we also get spoken to anyhow. Like bro/sis, dont be unfortunate. Don’t speak to me like you’ve got no manners. 

Everyone frustrates you. Your fellow doctors, the nurses, patients relatives, even the hospital maid and the cleaner. It’s almost like damn, when are we actually going to focus on the patient. 

On a ward round, your senior colleague that obviously does not know how to speak and correct politely will yell in front of the patient, their relatives and the whole ward  about how useless the young doctors are. I will say though that not all of them are like this. I’ve worked with some amazing people who taught and corrected young doctors with respect. 

You ask the nurse politely for the patient’s chart, you get yelled at. When you correct their mistakes and ask them to do their work, they gather and say you have attitude problems. Ok ma. 

The nurses don’t wanna do their work. All they want to do is call you that a patient’s IV line is in tissue. I’ve had to go site a line three times on the same patient in one night. This patient whose veins i could barely see despite the tourniquet was voluntarily removing it and the nurses did not really care. I mean it’s the doctors that site line so for all they care, he can remove it five times. So I mean, let him remove it and bleed every now and then. Where is the love? 

Hospital maids/attendants/whatever else they like to be called don’t wanna do anything. All they wanna do is sit and talk all day. Once you tell them to go pick up drugs or drop something at the pharmacy, you’re looking for trouble or you tell them to go drop a sample at the lab. They’ll complain( yes, in front of everyone) about how they’re tired of walking and how they can’t walk far distances. Sis, why are you getting paid then? I don’t have energy because my response is always ‘ Ma, it’s your job o. I didn’t help you apply to a busy hospital as a hospital maid. So please do your job or quit.’ Stupes 
Now let’s move to the patient’s relative. This one is a bit cultural. Nigerian adults think because you’re a young lady, they can speak to you anyhow. Like can we all respect ourselves here ffs! Or the younger relatives that call you ‘sister/nurse/eysss’. I had to tell a young man to never call me ‘eysss’ if you don’t have brain cells to see I’m a doctor and should be called doctor then I really don’t know again. 

A recent encounter with a patient’s relative 

Walked to the patient to resite his IV line. The whole place was a mess. (Half empty pure water satchets everywhere, used plates on the desk where his IV fluids and consumables should be. Opened the drawer and ended up touching a used spoon. FFS!!!! 

Me: Hello, are you his son? 

Him: Yes.

Me: you need to clear this place. This whole place is a mess. 

Him: IS IT ME THAT DID IT NI? ABEG SISTER DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO. WHATS YOUR OWN WITH USED PLATES? AH O GA O. 

At this point he got me fucked up. 

Me: ARE YOU SERIOUS? A YOUNG MAN LIKE YOU SEEING HOW NASTY THIS PLACE IS AND THATS WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY. YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF. PLEASE STEP OUTSIDE NOW!!!!! LIKE I DONT WANT TO SEE YOUR FACE HERE WHILE IM RESITING THIS LINE. MORE THAN HALF OF THE THINGS I NEED TO RESITE LINE YOU DONT HAVE. YET YOU CANT BE HUMBLE AND LET PEOPLE HELP YOU.

GO GET 5 PINK CANNULAS, COTTON WOOL  AND GLOVES SIR. 

He insisted he was not going to leave. Super cute. 

Of course he left when i almost got security involved. You must be mad to think you can come and disrespect me at my place of work. Absolutely mad. 

Its funny how if it was a huge male Doctor, he’d almost be prostrating every time. Trash. Nigerians are disrespectful. No manners. Nothing. 

So imagine going to work and having to deal with all these people every single day. 

I’m legit a very angry person now. Like I already had low tolerance for nonsense but now I don’t even think I have tolerance again sef. 

I try to be positive and just not be so angry all the time but it’s really hard when everyone makes your work 10x harder than it should be. 
We really need to fix up in this country because patients will continue to suffer for the mess. I’m not going to work for 48 hours barely eating and sleeping and not snap at someone stupid. 

Ok I’m done ranting. 

Have a good weekend. 

I’m on call on Sunday and Im not answering any phone calls today because I can’t come and die. 

(PS- If you’re planning to work in Nigeria as a Doctor, don’t do it abeg. Don’t say I didn’t warn you o) 

– TOSIN 

Two months….

You guys! I have two months left and i’m done with house job. I’m so excited!!! I’m officially starting a countdown. I can’t wait.

It feels like i started just yesterday. It really went by quickly. I remember feeling some type of way about moving to Ibadan. I remember the orientation process and my first day as a Doctor. It was overwhelming. How naive and clueless i was! It was ridiculous.

I have learnt and grown so much. I have met some cool people. I have worked with some stressful people and commended myself on how much I’ve grown by just being able to deal with them.

I started my internship with Obstetrics and Gynaecology, then moved to paediatrics and then Surgery. I’ve completed the first month in Medicine. .

I remember finding out I was posted to GIT/Liver unit and I was sad and happy at the same time. Sad because the unit is mad stressful in this hospital and happy because I actually don’t mind GIT. It was my favorite system back in Med school. I even did an elective rotation in GIT. That’s how much I loved it. 

The first month was a bit stressful as I was getting used to the unit. People weren’t exactly doing their work so it made everyone tense. I don’t mind the unit now though. I know what’s expected of me and what I need to do. 

Personally, I’ve been feeling somehow. Not sure if I can call it depression because that’s pretty big but I just don’t know if this is what I want to do with my life. I’m not sure being a Doctor makes me happy. A lot of people have said it’s probably because I’m in Nigeria and everything here is stress but deep down I feel like I’ll be miserable if I end up doing this forever. I’ve spoken to a few people about it and everyone is basically like you’ve got your whole life ahead. Ultimately, you gotta do what makes you happy. I mean, I love helping people feel better. It’s really overwhelming when you see someone come into the hospital really bad – almost dead ‘bad’ and they eventually leave conscious and well. It’s really amazing and the feeling that you played a role in making that happen is not something I can even discuss. Tew much! But I still wake up and feel sad. Almost like this is not what I should be doing with my life. Hopefully , i figure it out soon. Pray for me guys! 

On to happier news, I met my cute ass nephew last week. 😍  I’m looking forward to finishing housejob and starting NYSC much later in the year. I also look forward to next month as I’ll be welcoming my second nephew to the world. Super exciting. Titi is getting married in August so that’s super lit. Such a blessed year for my family tbh. 

What kind of post would this be if I don’t share pictures from the past few months? 
For more pictures follow lifewithtwotees and napphotog on instagram. 

Surgery posting| Things you find in my pocket! 

We all know house officers have everything you need on the ward. Well, at least we are expected to. I find it slightly annoying when senior colleagues get upset when we don’t have certain things in our pockets like ‘Sorry o, I didn’t know we are a moving store. My apologies!’ Stupes! 

It’s sad tho that most patients don’t have the basic things they need and it’s even sadder that in a big teaching hospital, basic things can’t be found on the ward. I was coming from the Caribbean where the hospital provides the consumables (gloves, needles, syringes, cannulas, cotton wool, methylated spirit e.t.c. It was a huge shock coming here and realizing patients have to buy every damn thing! The economy isn’t friendly so imagine the struggle. It’s so annoying going to a patient to give drugs or secure Iv access and realizing they don’t have anything. 

We, house officers (seeing as we do most of the work anyway) have decided to make our lives easier and have these things in or pockets. 

Since I started Plastic Surgery, I can’t even count the number of wounds I’ve seen and I can’t count the number of surgical blades I’ve brought out of my pocket. 

P.S- you know you’ve arrived when you describe a wound during consultant ward round and everyone agrees. It was at that point I realized I’ve actually learnt so much in this posting. I’m low key considering coming back for residency. Emphasis on low key. 

I swear this post was supposed to be about the things usually seen/found in my pocket but somehow the story is going somewhere else. 
Okay. 

1. Continuation sheet/patients note, pen and Census 

There’s nothing more annoying than a long ward round without continuation sheets. Imagine having to ask the nurses for them and continuously hearing ‘We don’t have o’. Oh they don’t even bother looking for them anymore. They legit just say they don’t have and continue their work. Highly irritating! 

A census is basically a list of all our patients, the wards, diagnosis and basic information about them. Only used in plastic surgery because we have patients on almost all the wards in this hospital. Strezzup! 

Can we also discuss the disturbing issue of how my pens disappear. Like I take three pens to work everyday and most days I don’t return with any. I can’t even explain how it happens tbvh. I’m sure my fellow house officers can relate. 

2. IV cannulas. 


Ladies and gentlemen, there is nothing more annoying than getting to a Patient’s bedside to give drugs only to realize the line is in tissue and to make matters worse realize that the patient does not have materials for siting a line. Struggle! Or when the nurses call you in the middle of the night that your patient’s line is in tissue and you just want to do what you gotta do and sleep. 

3. Sample bottles/capillary tubes/surgical blade.



Hmm. It has actually gotten to the point where I go to the different labs to take sample bottles. The hospital is so big and from the time you fill the request form to the time it takes the patient’s relative to go get sample bottles, thirty minutes to an hour is gone and you just find yourself wondering how your life got this fucked up.  I personally don’t like stress. Neither do I like people disturbing my life. Most times, as I’m filling the forms, I’m asking the patient if he/she has money to pay for the investigation. If yes, best believe I’m taking the sample right then. 

4. Mobile wifi. 


I’m sure y’all weren’t expecting this one but every now and then during the ward round, you’ll find yourself wondering what the dose of a drug is or what the hell the consultants are talking about. Shout out to Medscape and google for helping a nigga out! The annoying part is because everyone knows you have a wifi in your pocket you suddenly become the technology person. ‘Oya google it na’. When they’re overdoing it, I’m always like ‘No network. Tenks much’. 

All these rich registrars and senior registrars that won’t buy good phones and pay for data. 🙄

Let me use this opportunity to talk about how I’m now the photographer of the unit. Any small thing, ‘please come and take a clinical picture’. This always end with ‘The picture is not good enough’ #strezzup! 

I hope y’all enjoyed reading this post that has somehow turned into a rant. Sigh 

I’m leaving plastic surgery this week and it’s lit! 

How’s your week going? 

Life! Oh wait…..

How’s it going guys?

  • I’m currently typing this in my room and i’m on call.
  • My call has been okay. So far, so good.
  • I am half way done with my surgery posting!
  • I am almost done with housejob y’all! Isn’t that crazy?
  • I can now sort of say i’m in a long distance relationship. LOL. Hate it.
  • Well, technically it’s not that long.
  • I finally got a room to myself in the hospital.
  • It’s such a purple room. I love it.
  • I almost forgot…. I’m 26 years old now. OMG. I’m old.
  • I had a weird birthday.
  • I was kinda depressed because i put too much pressure on myself and i felt like i’m not where i want to be in life.
  • I felt so much better the day after though. I realised how blessed I am and for that I was really grateful. I mean, I have the best family.. super supportive and shit… I have the best boyfriend. Super kind and amazing tbh.
  • I wish i wasn’t on call today. I would’ve been watching a movie with bae.
  • He went without me. Imagine that?!
  • March is almost over… Where is the year flying to. Not complaining tho.
  • Hope you guys are having a great month so far.
  • I will blog about my plastic surgery posting soon.
  • I am tired of seeing wounds. It’s disgusting tbvh.

5months… 

So i remember when I was always ranting about not having a job and now I have 5 months left in this house job struggle. 

– It has actually been going well. Not perfect but I wasn’t expecting perfect so it’s all good! 

– Bae is leaving this month. He’s going back home. 😦 

– I am almost done with Urology you guys! 

– It’s crazy how I thought I’d struggle. Well, I Kinda did for the first week. At some point I was sure my SR could not stand me. But it went from 0-100. She told me couple of days how she knows a well behaved girl when she sees one and how she can tell I was brought up properly and that there’s nothing better than a good upbringing! 

Who woulda thunk it?!?! 

– I have three more calls and I’m moving to Plastic Surgery! I really like Plastic Surgery so I’m looking forward to it and hoping to learn a lot. 

– I hated Urology before I started but i actually find it interesting now. 

Omgggg! I’m turning 26 in a couple of days! Whut?!?! 

– I’m old y’all! 

– I spent the weekend with bae and it was amazing. 

– I’m on call tomorrow again so bleh. 

– I finally took my camera out of my room today. Exciting! Since I got my iPhone, I’ve neglected my camera. 

– I did not take a lot of pictures tho.


– These are iPhone pictures. 

Have a lovely week guys! Kick ass! 

– TOSIN