First Impressions – Not Stepping Up to the Plate = BAD

A new medical officer (NMO) joined the department and was assigned to a surgical team. An experienced medical officer (EMO1) was on call for the operating room call (this MO stays in the OT/OR, does the small cases like amputations, saucerisations and appendicectomies, as well as assisting in larger cases like laparotomies) on the same day as a department farewell dinner. He was looking for someone to ‘sell’ his call to.

Operating room calls are hot stuff, they sell like hotcakes to the surgically inclined. Almost every surgical trainee (or surgical trainee wannabe) appreciates more experience in the operating room. Furthermore, OT calls involve no direct responsibility for patients (As compared to the A&E or ward calls), allowing the on-call to focus purely on gaining more surgical exposure.

EMO1 entered the MO room (containing NMO, J., H, K and TJ) and asks to swap out a call. J., H and K are on call the day after EMO1. TJ is on call the day before. So EMO1 asks NMO since (a) he has no calls in that period of time (b) he wants to do surgery (c) he’s a new MO and thus really doesn’t need to go for the department farewell dinner. NMO politely declines since he “doesn’t want to do calls so early”, and wants to do “tag-on calls” first. EMO1 shrugs and says he will just do the call then.

TJ, who is also an experienced MO (EMO2), can barely hide his contempt: NMO is “the person who says he wants to do surgery but doesn’t want to do an OT call”, instead, he wants to do “tag-on calls” – voiced with a tone of disdain accompanied by airquote gestures.

Really, that’s not the way to start building your reputation on your first surgical rotation.


7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by blacktag on November 1, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    Considering that neurosurgical calls were 72 hours long not so long ago, I think J, H, K and TJ deserve an equal, if not greater, measure of contempt.


  2. Why? If they were not asked, should they deserve an equal measure of contempt for not volunteering to work 56hrs of a surgical call on a day where their farewell gathering is, towards the end of a posting?

    If a comparison to the past is the yardstick, it was not too long ago that registrars-on-call never called the consultant, ever, despite the difficulty of the case. Should the registrars now be condemned for calling the consultant for help in difficult cases?


  3. Posted by blacktag on November 2, 2009 at 1:29 am

    Maybe your NMO needs a little orientation, a little time to settle in. Even a surgeon like me can understand that. Leave your heroics out of my operating field.


  4. Agree, yes, he felt that way. He said so.

    It was just confusing that your first comment didn’t say that and kind of just ‘arrowed’ the the bystanders of this anecdote.

    You can understand, but others don’t share the same view. I can understand that a classmates fiercely defends his answer against his examiner but it will not stop him from being failed.

    I still stand by my statement that this is not the way to build your reputation on your first surgical rotation. Heroics don’t even come into the picture.


  5. Posted by blacktag on November 2, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    Which says more about the people than it does about the person.


  6. Posted by jongan on November 5, 2009 at 9:58 pm

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