Med School Hell – My Vascular Surgery Attending

This post is raw and holds nothing back. If you’re uncomfortable with vulgar language, please turn back.

January 21, 2007
By: Hoover


I lied. I told you in this post that the next installment at MSH would be about alternative career paths. Well, it’s not.

As most of you already know, I hate surgery. Now, vascular surgery is the evil mother from which the rest of surgery is born. She’ll rise up and bitch-slap you right across the mouth just for looking the wrong way.

My first surgery experience was actually in vascular surgery. I showed up at 6:00 am to the offices where the residents hung out for the 5 minutes each day that they had free. They had already been there for some time, as evidenced by backpacks and extra shoes strewn about the room. Just like all other first days on new rotations, I was clueless as to what to do or where to go.

I made my way to where I thought the vascular surgery patients stayed in the hospital, and after asking several nurses I finally found the residents working.

“Where were you? We’ve been seeing patients for an hour now” one of the residents asked.

“Well, I got here at 6 and didn’t really know where to go” I blurted out.

“Fine. Just pick up 4-5 patients and starting writing notes. Our first case is at 7:00 am.”

That was my first interaction with who I learned later that day to be the chief resident on vascular surgery. No introductions, no nothing. Just “start writing notes.”

I picked up 4 patients and starting making my “rounds.” If you can call them that. Focused physical exams? You bet. Shit, by this time I had around 30 mins before I was to be in the OR and scrubbed in for my first surgery case ever.

Little did I know, but “scrubbing in” for surgical cases was by far probably the worst of the worst experiences for me as a medical student. I was about to learn. I’m not just talking about on vascular surgery either. I’m talking about scrubbing for anything. Even mention the word “scrub” to me and I feel like I want to puke. God I hate that fucking OR.

Seven in the morning was rolling close, so I make my way down to the OR. I scrubbed in and waited for everyone else to get there. The residents made their way into the room, and finally the attending that I’d be working with the entire month made his presence.

“Who are you?” he asked. “I’m the junior medical student working with you sir. My name is…”

“I don’t care what your name is, boy. In this OR and on this service, your name is boy.”

The surgery just so happened to be a combo pancreas / bilateral kidney transplant. Not only was the vascular attending helping out, but I soon got the pleasure to meet his alter ego – the transplant surgery attending. Holy shit, it was a long case. I think it was around 8 hours, but I’m not sure. I didn’t get to leave the whole time though, and let me tell you it was definitely an introduction to probably the worse month of my life.

I had never held a retractor before, but I got to learn. Of course, I couldn’t do it right. Instead of telling me how to correctly hold the retractor, the vascular surgery attending felt the need to slap my hands whenever I was holding it incorrectly. It wasn’t so much the slap on the hands that bothered me, but this would cause blood to fly around unnecessarily.

He thought it was cool though. He was the big man. It was big of him to call me “boy” for the entire month. He liked ordering me around. The sad part is that I don’t have a problem with authority at all – I just like to be treated with a little bit of respect. However, “respect” is not a part of this guy’s vocabulary.

No matter if we were in in the OR or on rounds, my name was “boy.” In fact, he only called me by my name once during the entire rotation. I know because I kept track of it. It was the longest, shittiest month of my life. I hated every last minute whenever I was there. All day I would watch the clock but that didn’t really do any good because we never knew what time we’d get out of there. In at 5:00 am or so and out at 7:00 pm was somewhat standard, but not a guarantee.

The OR with him was a battlefield. If something didn’t go his way, he’d throw scapels and shit. He wouldn’t throw them at anybody, but he would still throw them and that’s bad enough. If the OR tech handed him the wrong instrument, he would “accidentally” drop it on the floor so that they would have to get him a sterile one. Everybody hated this guy, and I was beginning to develop my own hatred for him as well.

It got to the point that I seriously hated this guy. I hated the way he looked, the way he talked, the way he walked, the jeans that he wore on weekend rounds, the way he would always slick back his hair, everything. He wore his cell phone on his belt on the weekends while rounding and I hate it when people do that to this day. It seriously looks gay, so please don’t do it.

By two weeks into the rotation, I wanted to kick the shit out of him. Whenever he called me a name in the OR, I would dream about grabbing the back of his head and slamming it down into the field. Whenever he’d throw a scapel, I wanted to pick something up and sling it at him as hard as I could.

I really fucked that guy on his evaluation. I don’t know if I’ve posted what I had written to him before, but if not I’ll throw it up here for you to see. He knew it was me from the first sentence. It was probably the best evaluation-raping that I have ever given to an attending physician.

Six months later he left the medical school to practice in a different location. I seriously hope my evaluation had something to do with fucking his career.

Are you convinced to leave medicine? If so, you may feel like you are alone. You may feel clueless about what to do next. However, quitting medicine could turn out better than you have ever thought possible. And here is why you should get out …

This article is part of Hoover’s Med School Hell series. Med School Hell reveals the crazy truth about the crappiness of the US medical education and healthcare system … while making you laugh so hard, you’ll crap in your pants.

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