My rotation in surgery was the one I was most fearful of. I was worried about the long hours, retaining information and completing assignments, and making time to study for my end of rotation exam. I knew by the end of my previous rotation that I needed create and adhere to a schedule that would allow me to get all my work done without feeling overwhelmed. My day typically began at 4:00 AM: I would get ready for my rotation, have breakfast, and be out of the door by 4:50 AM. 40 minutes later I was chart reviewing and getting ready for pre-rounds. This was one of the more challenging aspects of the rotation — going to bed early and waking up at 4:00 AM required me to use earplugs to sleep so that no one would disturb me, and I would leave all my clothes laid out in the bathroom the night before as to not disturb anyone else while getting ready. Once I was done pre-rounding on my patients, I would join the general surgery team for formal rounds. We went through a list of patients on three different floors and briefly presented each case. I worked with medical students and other PA students, and we each selected 1-2 patients to present each morning. Although I felt very nervous during my first week presenting, I soon learned how to extrapolate important information so that I would be able to quickly present my patient and provide an assessment and plan. By the end of my rotation I was able to present my patient without referencing my notes which is something I am very proud of. At the beginning of my clinical year I made it a goal of mine to be able to present patients in this fashion, and I am glad I was able to accomplish this during my surgery rotation. I want to continue honing this skill for my future rotations, and apply them once I have formally entered the medical field as a PA-C.
The most challenging types of patients I dealt with during this rotation were IVDAs coming in for emergent procedures. Sometimes, these patients became very aggressive after surgery and try to remove dressing or would scream at the staff. During my specialty week, the PA I was paired with treated these patients with an insurmountable amount of patience; she was kind, calm, and spoke to them with respect. Her way of dealing with these patients helped to calm them down, and they were more receptive to interventions in the PACU. I admired this PA very much for treating all of her patients the same, and I aspire to one day exhibit the same level-headedness. One thing I would have liked for my colleagues to notice on this rotation was my eagerness to learn and participate in procedures. Because there were so many students, I found it difficult at the beginning to offer myself up for procedures without stepping on anyone’s toes. I quickly discovered, however, that pairing up with different residents allowed me the opportunity to perform different procedures. Some residents allowed me to see patients by myself on clinic day, while others allowed me to suture in the OR, and yet others allowed me to participate in wound care during rounds. Becoming familiar with my colleagues made it so that I felt more comfortable asking to do things during my rotation. This entire rotation was memorable for me, from the students and residents I worked with, to the cases I scrubbed into, and the way I handled myself in the face of obstacles. I am proud of having completed this rotation!

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