Five days ago, I rotated onto my first surgical job as a doctor [for context, the first two years of being a doctor in the UK involves rotating around 6 specialities, 4 months at a time]. My god, it has been the most brutal transition known to man. I’ve gone from 9 am starts and leisurely lunches to 7:30 am starts and lunch on the odd occasion. I also don’t finish on time most days. I’ve felt extremely uncomfortable in my surgical rotation these first few days but I’ve grown at impressive speeds.
On my first day, I got a ‘bloody hell, why don’t you know the patients’ by my consultant surgeon running the morning ward round. On my third day, I got a ‘very well done Yath, good job’ during the ward round. In 72 hours, I went from being utterly useless at my role to vaguely helpful. To achieve this, I had to use the uncomfortable situation to my advantage. Rather than huffing and puffing at how stressful my life had suddenly gotten, I learnt what I had to do in order to be useful. I fast-tracked my growth. I spoke to fellow colleagues, allied health professionals, and turned to the internet for advice on what makes a good Vascular Surgery Junior Doctor.
I don’t believe this would have happened at quite the pace if I had a mild, kind, and smooth introduction to the speciality. Had the consultant on day one not voiced their frustration at me [I won’t go into details exploring whether this was right or not right, that’s another discussion entirely], then I wouldn’t have cared so much to improve so fast.
Whilst there’s room for more constructive feedback and mentoring styles, what the consultant did felt fair to me. It made me uncomfortable. It opened my eyes to how starkly different psychiatry is to surgery. It made me want to learn, grow, and develop the necessary skills to make myself a better surgical doctor. Mainly for two reasons: (a) so that I could provide better care to my patients and (b) so that I could be a valuable member of the team.
The message is simple, growth becomes necessary when we’re painfully uncomfortable. Get out of your comfort zone.