Sunday, April 6, 2014
Tips For Junior Surgical Registrars by Dr Kesley Pedler
This is the first ever guest blog piece on "Surgical Opinion." It is written by Dr Kesley Pedler who has just completed the Surgical Education & Training (SET) in Urology. We are on the brink of seeing her enter urological practice and in this piece she shares tips on the day to day work as a surgical trainee. I think you will all quickly gather that Dr Pedler is going to be one of those individuals who will create their own luck. - Henry Woo
Tips for junior registrars (SET 1 to 3): things I wish I knew when I started my training
This week I completed my SET Urology training! It has been quite a journey and I have learnt a great deal from my many mentors over the last six years. I have decided to share a few tips which I have figured out over the last few years which I have found helpful in performing my day to day job as a urology registrar.
These tips will help you become an organised, competent, efficient and mature registrar which means your consultants will be more likely to increase your level of responsibility both inside and outside theatre which will allow you to learn more!
Be organised! ( especially for operating lists)
· Know the cases beforehand:
o This includes the indication for the procedure and results of relevant investigations .
o This will help you understand the decision making process that has lead to your consultant bringing the patient to theatre.
o Make sure you review the relevant imaging beforehand and display in the theatre (e.g. for a radical nephrectomy- make sure the CT is displayed demonstrating the tumour and also the vascular anatomy)
· Know what major cases are coming up a few weeks in advance
o Your consultants will expect you to know
o This also gives you time to prepare for the case and read-up in advance. If you demonstrate understanding and knowledge of the operative steps, your consultant will feel a lot more comfortable letting you perform a significant part of the operation.
o Befriend the administration staff in the bookings office in order to preview lists ahead of time.
· Be punctual
o Ensure you allow enough time to arrive on time (or even early) to theatres
o This means scheduling enough time beforehand to complete ward rounds
o Unless there has been an unforseen emergency elsewhere, avoid arriving at your theatre list after your consultant (and they will take note especially if this is a recurring occurrence).
Keep a notebook of details of operations
· I have found it useful to keep a record of the particulars of certain procedures. This includes pre-op preparation, patient positioning, intra-operative details of each step including details such as particular sutures used and post operative management.
· This can either be in the form of a notebook or keeping copies of select operation reports
· This is invaluable since it will be a good reference to read before doing the particular case next time
o Your consultant will be impressed you recall the details of the procedure and will be more likely to let you do more the next time.
o You will often find that different consultants will perform the same procedure slightly differently and you will be expected to perform the procedure in their specific fashion.
· This is also a useful resource in preparation for the operative viva in the fellowship examination.
· It may also be useful when starting consultant practice- you can pick and choose which way you will perform a particular procedure according to what you have seen work well during your training.
Be organised outside the operating theatre
· Keep a list of your inpatients close at hand
o It is impossible to remember all details
o I use this to record important information such as drain outputs, salient blood results and pending investigations.
o I then refer to it when speaking to consultants about their patients (and jot down instructions and changes to the plan)
Think before calling your consultant
· Have a definite purpose to your phone call
· Think about how you will present your case before dialling.
· Articulate your plan of management (even if you are not sure, suggest what you think is appropriate, it will help your learning even if you are incorrect)
· Have a list of all your consultants patients plus any other issues you need to discuss so that all issues are dealt with in one phone call
Think beyond the acute hospital admission
· This can take a little time to develop since as junior doctors we are only exposed to the acute hospital setting which is predominantly focused upon discharging patients
· Think about what long term follow-up, investigations and future procedures are required. This will help you learn to manage the patient completely- a skill necessary in consultant practice and this will be assessed in the exam.
Look after yourself
· Try to get enough sleep, eat and exercise when you can (although this is not always possible)
· Have a proper holiday (i.e. going away and not thinking about study or work) at least once a year.
Remember that there is more to life than just urology!
· Don’t neglect the significant people in your life (family, partners, friends). This is what is really important in life and it can be difficult to keep this a priority when your work and training often clash with other life events.
· The last thing you want is for the significant people in your life to feel of lesser importance than your work.
(This piece was originally published in the USANZ Training Newsletter called "Bridges" in February 2014. Dr Pedler has been kind enough to allow this piece to be reproduced here)