Surgeons in training must learn physical and mental skills
BY DR. KOMOROFF Universal Uclick
Thursday, January 31, 2013
1/31/13 at 2:40 AM
Dear Doctor K: You often mention your colleagues at Harvard Medical School. I'm curious, what does it take to become a doctor at Harvard?
Dear Reader: Believe it or not, this is the first time I've been asked that question.
Here's how things are organized. We have several hundred medical students. They spend four to five years learning to become doctors. Then they get an M.D. after their names.
The next step is residency and fellowship. This is a multiyear process when a newly minted M.D. gets additional training and certification in one of the medical specialties, such as internal medicine or surgery.
Then, for many, comes further training in narrower subspecialties within each specialty. For example, internal medicine is divided into subspecialties such as cardiology, endocrinology or general internal medicine (primary care). The process of going through residency and fellowship can take three to eight years.
In this brief column, I can give you only a taste of the process. For a comprehensive look, I recommend a short and inexpensive new e-book called "The Making of a Surgeon," written by my Harvard Medical School colleague Dr. Stan Ashley, with John Hanc. You can learn more about this book at my website, tulsaworld.com/DrK
The book describes the intense and grueling pace for both the trainees and their teachers. The workday begins between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m.
There are lots of skills taught during medical school and residency. For surgeons, the manual procedures of doing surgery obviously must be mastered.
But that's not enough: The trainees need to learn coolness under fire and how to think clearly when things are not going "by the book." Above all, they need to learn how to be members of a team - because surgery requires a team - and how to listen to, comfort and explain things to patients.
Write Dr. K at www.AskDoctorK.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut, Kansas City, MO 64106