Man, time flies when you're having fun, I guess. My four weeks on my otolaryngology sub-i were over in a flash. I have to admit, I was a bit nervous coming into the rotation. I felt like I had a fair amount of exposure to the field of otolaryngology, but any time you're making a decision to enter a field when you haven't spent dedicated time rotating through the specialty, you have to wonder if you'll end up enjoying it as much as you think you will. Luckily, I found a great experience during my rotation that reaffirmed rather than undermined my decision.
That being said, talk about a crash course of an experience. Doing a sub-i in a field that is only peripherally covered by the third year rotations, I found myself having to read quite a bit every night just to stay on top of the topics I may see in the clinic or OR the next day. Luckily, I got to rotate through a different service each week, so I could focus each week on learning one specific aspect of the field, be it head & neck, rhinology, peds, or facial plastics. That being said, I felt like the rotation was much less about showing what I knew and much more about showing my willingness to learn. Definitely a different experience than some of my friends who were doing sub-i's in general surgery, internal medicine, etc where you're expected to have mastered basic principles as a third year and graduated on to more patient management.
That being said, being a sub-i kicks butt compared to being a third year. The attendings know you are entering their field, and are much more willing to tolerate your presence and teach. You're given more hands-on opportunities. You're seen more as part of the team and less as a stranger passing through for a few weeks. Good times abound.
Some highlights from the four weeks:
- First assisting an entire anterior lateral thigh free flap
- Getting to perform a trachesotomy on my own
- Pulling a popcorn kernel out of a 3 year old kiddo's ear
- Draining 350cc's of pus out of a patient's neck who has a post-op infection (I'm afraid to admit... I love I&D's)
- Becoming known as "the PEG man" on service, and being paged specifically to come put one in
- First assisting an entire rhinoplasty with rib cartilage harvest
- First time getting to use the microdebrider
- First time getting to play with the DaVinci robot
- First time getting to shoot the laser
But, all good things must come to an end. My sub-i wrapped up and now I'm off on an away rotation. Living in a different, large city with only a small furniture-less room and a twin sized bed to call home. But still otolaryngology, so I can't complain. Grin.