’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!

 

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6 months….

My nephew turned one last week. Cutest boy!

So…. Can y’all believe it’s been six months already since I started housejob??? I can actually. Ive basically stopped blogging, reading non medical books, going out and doing so many other things I love. The whole process has been exhausting but I can’t complain because I met the most amazing person in this mess of a place. 

I’m officially done with Obstetrics and Gynecology and Paediatrics and I’m currently in Lagos for a family event. 

Everyone said Paeds would be horrible. I actually expected the worst. I was pleasantly surprised though. I met some amazing people and I had a blast. I’m not here saying I didn’t feel like slapping people everyday but it wasn’t as bad as they made it seem. Paediatrics was stress sometimes. It was frustrating meeting Parents that obviously have no plans for their kids. Some did not even care. Highlight of my paeds rotation would be the moment we discharged a premature baby I was so attached to. His parents just got married so it sorta hit me like ‘damn, this could happen to anyone I know’. I met baby Miracle when I started my SCBU posting this month and the baby went from stable to really sick to stable.  It was just really a roller coaster. At some point he was the only male baby on the ward. Lol Even when we were distributing patients, the parents insisted I made him my patient. Long story short,  baby Miracle got discharged and guess who wasn’t there? Yeah. Me. I was so happy nonetheless. Watching a baby almost die is the most depressing thing ever. 

Guess what? The most random thing just happened. I just got a call from Baby Miracle’s parents. They were calling to say hi and tell me Baby Miracle does not miss my daily pcv checks and frequent pricks. Lmaoo

My worst moment in Paediatrics happened when I was doing my ward posting. I was in pulmonology unit. I was on call on the haemonc ward. Immediately I started my call, the nurse told me a patient is complaining and I should probably go see her. I went over to the bed side and asked the mother what the problem was. She said her daughter is in a lot of pain and she’s a strong girl so for her to be moaning, the pain must be intense. I asked what analgesics the child has been on. Luckily for me, the primary doctors were still on the ward so I asked them what they usually give her for the pain and they said she reacts badly to opioids so sadly, it’s just the usual IV paracetamol. I was like damn. Well, I went ahead and gave her some, collected my worklist, dropped my phone number and left the ward. I went back to give drugs at some point that night and the girl was not looking good at all. Thankfully, my reg was around. We both walked to the bedside and the mother was just complaining that something is off with her girl. Before we could even ask her what she meant, the girl started gasping. The mother started singing that ‘ You are great.. every single thing about you is great’ song. Said that’s her daughter’s favourite song. Then she told us that whatever happens, do not resusitate. The girl took her last breath and we just stood there looking. The mother did not stop singing. I didn’t even know when I shed a tear. It was so depressing. Then the part I couldn’t handle was when the father came and the mother who has been so strong all along started crying… They basically took turns crying for like 30minutes. Then the mother came up to me and brought all her unused consumables. (In Nigeria, patients buy their own consumables- needle, syringes, water for injection, gloves, cotton wool e.t.c) and gave them to me that she knows they’ll be useful to someone else.

Yeah, that call was the most fucked up call ever. The song was stuck in my head for like a week. so very dramatic. 

Btw, the lil girl had nephroblastoma. 

Ok enough about Paediatrics! 

Starting my Surgery posting next week and I’m not exactly excited because I don’t like surgery either. The consolation right now is that I’ve done my least favourite so how bad can this one be?

Apparently neurosurgery is the worst unit so I’m praying I don’t get posted there but people have done it and they did not die so we move!

I’m in Lagos and I’ve not even done anything. I was supposed to get a new phone but everyone has been discouraging me. I’m just tired. 

I’ll probably go visit my friends and sister and buy a couple of things. 

Oh and I need to do my hair. Ugh 

What phone should I get? I need one with a badass camera. Okay maybe not badass but good enough. I’m thinking iPhone 6s or Samsung s6 edge. Epp me please! 

January is almost over. I am excited just knowing I’ll finish housejob this year. 

Are you excited for the rest of the year?! 

One month after…..

Hey y’all! I know I’ve been MIA for almost two months now. I’m sorry. I remember when I  was complaining to you guys about my joblessness. Now, I barely have time for myself. 😢 I miss the days when I’d wake up, eat, read and sleep. Life was easier.

So as y’all know I started housejob in August. Started with Obgyn. Its been going well actually. Every now and then someone annoys me but it’s all good. Scratch that! I’ve made a conscious effort not to get upset by little things and just do my job and go.

I started with Gyne Oncology unit and i’m now in Genitourinary unit. So basically in each unit we have the obstetrics side and the Gyne side. We don’t have a lot of patients on the Gyne side where i was initially  so its not so busy. They made me the SHO (Senior House Officer) of my unit(which basically means more work and responsibilities). Trust me, it had me confused too like I just got here nauuuuu. Can I chill small???

I did the first week on the Gyne side but had to move to the Obs side. It’s not extremely busy but it’s still so draining because I work with a registrar that probably has OCD and stresses about every single thing who i really appreciate now having worked with some lazy ones.
Oh btw, I got my first salary ever in my life. It was a good feeling tbh. I need a proper plan on how i’m going to spend and save my money because so far the saving part is not going well.

This is such a boring post because I don’t have a lot to say or talk about. Sigh. I honestly just typed this post because I felt like it’s been so long and you guys deserve better tbh. My one week leave started yesterday and i’m in Lagos. YAY!

One short sad story tho, my phone fell and the screen broke so i really can’t do anything right now. I wanted to post some pictures with this post but wellllllll….. and i forgot my camera in Ibadan… I’m really just hoping i’ll be able to fix the screen here becausemans don’t have money for a new phone. The economy is not exactly friendly.

Anyway, hopefully i’ll be able to write more posts this week since i’m free.

 


TOSIN

Life as a house officer. 

Hey guys. First of all, I’m pretty sure my followers/readers outside Nigeria might not understand what house job is all about. 

Its basically your internship year. Your first experience as a Doctor after med school. It is also when you start earning money. 😉

We are at the bottom of the chain as the consultants here keep emphasizing. So basically, we do three months in each department (medicine, obgyn, surgery and pediatrics). 

I’m starting with Obgyn and for the first month I’ve been posted to GOU (Gyne oncology unit). I wasn’t particularly thrilled by this. I mean, who wants to wake up to see cancer patients everyday? Not me! It is quite depressing but I’m not so sad because I hated gyne oncology in med school so I guess this will give me an opportunity to learn and know it by force. 

So, during the three months posting in different units in O&G, you get to do one week in labor ward, another week in Gyne Emergency and then your one week leave. One each month. 


Guess who started with labor ward? Me. I was initially not excited because its usually very busy and unpredictable but I’ll still do it anyway and apparently to get your leave, you must have done your two weeks outside posting. 

First day in labor ward was not bad. They only allow scrubs and slippers in labor ward. I still dont understand why bathroom slippers sha. It was not as bad as I thought it’d be. I heard it was a punishment zone like if you do something wrong in your unit, they might post you to labor ward. The have the first stage area, the second stage area and then the post partum area where they stay till theyre transfered to the warda. The most common diagnosis here from my one week there is preeclampsia.  Basically, we do ward rounds with the registrars, snr registrars and consultants, review patients, fill investigation forms, take blood samples, assist in any procedure being done, assist in the surgeries being done, give IV drugs, take vital signs and deal with any complaint the patient has. Its not as easy as it sounds. I barely got a chance to just relax but the thing is its very unpredictable so it might get quiet for like an hour and next thing you know, they’re wheeling three patients in.  I was excited though. 

If you’re not on call, you get off work 5pm (5 was never really 5 tbh)  but if you are on call, it’s till 8 the next morning and you resume your normal duty. Stress. 

I did my first call in gyne emergency. Bruh. I never hexperret it. I barely slept for two hours. The emergency room here is under construction so it was just chaotic. I learnt a lot though and it was exciting. 
I’m back to my unit on Monday and I have a ward call that day. Hopefully, it goes well. 

This post is mainly for those that asked for house job update. 

So far, so good. I’ll try to keep y’all updated.

Have a good weekend! 

– TOSIN

July/ Update

Hey guys. How’s it going? I feel like now that I’ve started working I won’t have the time and energy to post things but I’ll sure update y’all on what’s happening because I like gisting and sharing. 😏

July was a stressful month for me tbh. I started the medicals for my new job and these people are so dramatic. I’m not complaining tho because its all for my health and to make sure I’m fit and protected from some diseases I could get while working here. I legit got over 6 injections, did a bunch of blood tests, found out I was underweight ( I gained weight in July tho) praise jah. 

So I found out I’m starting my internship year in Obstetrics and Gynecology. I was so happy. Its so funny cuz I was talking to the guy sitting right beside me about how I wanted obgyn and they called all the Doctors posted to that department and my name wasn’t mentioned. They initially posted me to pediatrics and randomly changed their minds. I was like ‘look at God!’ 

I just like and feel it’ll nice to transition from Obgyn to pediatrics and not the other way round.

So, I’m doing obgyn for the next three months. We apparently get to go to different units every month so we get to experience and learn as much as we can. That’s really exciting.

Day 1 selfie

I met some really nice people in July and I think I’m going to be really close to some of them. We all just clicked.

I would share more but July was really not that eventful. I was sad I missed Eat Drink Festival and the other  food fest in Lagos but I was eating Amala in Ibadan so life wasn’t so bad and I can’t complain.

How was July for you? Are you excited for the new month? Got plans for it? Looking forward to anything? Share with me in the comments section.

I hope this month goes well and hope I don’t lose weight from the stress but I’ll definitely keep y’all updated. 

XO!

TOSIN

Hydrate | Fruits

DSC_0045

So, for the past two days, I’ve been feeling a bit sick. I have the flu. My head is currently pounding as I’m typing this sef.

I’ve been trying to increase my fluid intake but these days I just don’t feel like drinking water or any liquid for that matter. I literally drink water because I don’t want to be dehydrated. Lagos heat is not a joke.

Anyway, I figured why not hydrate through fruits and veggies?! So this week, I’ve been eating my fruits especially the ones with high water contents like water melon and cucumbers (Tbh, these two are the only ones available that I actually enjoy eating.)

Did you know that cucumber has about 97% water and watermelon 92%?! Well, now you know.

There are others like tomatoes, celery, red/green pepper, spinach, broccoli but honestly, I’m not a huge fan of any of these and I want to join fit fam? Lol. What a joke. If there is a fit fam association, they’re probably currently writing a letter like this to me. :/

Dear Tosin,

We were going to welcome you properly to our association but you keep disappointing us? Why are you eating at 11pm? We also saw your blog post talking about ‘I’m not a huge fan of tomatoes, spinach and the rest’. Clearly, you don’t take our membership seriously. We might have to kick you out soon.

Sincerly,

Fit fam association.

Bleh.

What was even the point of this post? Sigh.

Goodnight.

 

Rants | Motivate me! 

Hey guys! How’s it going? I’ve been feeling down recently. Like everything is just weird. I’m tired. This is like a rant. Lowkey. Sorry. Lifestyle blog right? Not everytime outfit and gist, sometimes real life struggles.

So I’m literally still waiting to get called. I feel like if I don’t start working soon, I might lose my mind. I’m always home, in my room watching tv shows & movies. I would say I’m depressed lowkey but I reject it in my life in Jesus name abeg!

One would think that with the population of. nigeria, there will always be need for a doctor! First of all, if you’re planning to study Medicine or are already studying medicine and plan to work in Nigeria at some point in your life. Please think well ehn and have a plan!

  1. It’s a struggle to get into Med School here in Nigeria.
  2. When you finally get into Med School, they’re trying to frustrate your life and graduating is hectic.
  3. You finally graduate! Yay? Let’s say you’re a foreign trained Doctor like me. You have to write one exam here in Nigeria you know, just incase your degree is fake and shit. :/
  4. You finally pass the exam! Wonderful stuff eh? It’s a struggle to get a job. Every hospital have their own exam and interviews. So just imagine the amount of exams you have to write. Oh btw, they give you two years to get a spot for internship and finish it. If you don’t get a job within two years, (You’re proabably thinking ah ahn. How possible is that? Well, you’ll be shocked by the amount of jobless Doctors in this Country) you get an extra year to look for job. If you still don’t get a job (They’ve probably submitted your name in the village at this point because….) you have to write the exam again. :S Like oh we know you passed before but then the fact that you can’t get a job in three years probably means you’re just stupid or greedy because there’s a thing called Supra – Which I think is a smelling idea. (Where you work for free and they treat you like you’re getting paid)
  5. Let’s say you’re lucky and you get a job. Yay? You still have to deal with Consultants that can just decide to prolong that one year for you. You probably will start looking like struggle in a couple of months from the work.  I’ve heard weight loss stories because of housejob.
  6. Ok you’re finally done with Internship. Great stuff! You now have to serve our great nation Nigeria for a year. (If you’ve done this already. Lucky you!) Then there’s a chance you go from earning 170k naira to like less than 100k. (Don’t bother converting that to dollars. Ko worth e)
  7. You’re finally done with NYSC. By this time you’re probably like 30 years old or not sha. Shalla to the young Doctors out there! Now it’s time to marry! Jk. But now you have more exams to write to start residency. :/
  8. Now you pray that you get a spot for residency.

Let me stop here because I feel like a bunch of you are probably already like Nah. Not for me. I mean, I don’t have regrets but If somehow I’m able to turn back the hands of time, Medicine wouldn’t be my first choice. Tbh. I love it tho! If your dad or mom is a Doctor it’ll be easier for you!

Moral of this rant is you can get through it. All you need is ‘support’. It’s always amazing to have good friends ready to support and encourage you. I was on twitter recently and I saw this picture Nina Dobrev posted. I thought I should share with you wonderful people!


Honestly, is it even possible to do everything in this picture? 2016 goals to be honest! Let’s do this!! One step at a time. Feel free to join me! 🙂

(P.S- I’m really grateful for the readers of this blog. Thank you all so much for stopping by and reading posts like this! Feel free to comment and share your thoughts because I see y’all but You people won’t comment and let me know whats up! Fix up!)

Are you currently going through something similar? Let me know how you’re dealing with it.

– TOSIN