A day in the life of a general surgical trainee

My alarm goes off at 6.10am and I am up instantly. Showered and ready by 6.30 I make a cup of tea and drink it whilst listening to the radio, unpack the dishwasher and get organised for breakfast. Then I get my children up, chaos ensues as they fight over who should sit in which chair and what they all want for breakfast. By 7am I am leaving, cycling if it is dry into the hospital.

After securing my bike I head to theatre to get changed into scrubs, if I have time I will pick up a coffee and a banana from the canteen and drink it as I walk the long journey from the entrance to my office.

First up, I call into the High Dependency Unit to see my post operative patient from the day before and check her over, look at the observations chart, see if there is any blood in her drain and examine her. Then I quickly rush to the main ward to consent the first patient on today’s list who has just arrived.

My ward round begins at 8am (late by American standards), I see all the patients on the ward and any that belong to my consultants on neighbouring units. I give a plan for the day for everyone and ensure the juniors know which theatre to find me in if there is a problem.

There usually is just enough time to grab another coffee which I drink on the way to theatre where I will be for the next 7 or more hours. The anaesthetist takes an insanely frustrating length of time to get the patient off to sleep. They arrive at work at 0830 and are impatient that I don’t attend the theatre brief at 0830 as I am doing the ward round (Number of patients under my care 37: Number under their care:1). 

The first case is a quick one, we are done at 1030 and I run to radiology as there is a message that the radiologist is refusing to do a drain we have requested. Grovel for 10 minutes and leave with drain appointment booked. Next case goes on table and takes 6 hours, my deltoids ache by the end. I write the op note, the post op orders and go to the ward. The day shift junior doctor has left, as she finished at 4pm. 

The late shift doctor is dealing with an unwell person on another ward. Do ward round alone, it’s 6pm, I haven’t eaten since that banana and coffee at 0745. Relatives of many of our patients all want to talk to me, tempted to tell them to go and fuck themselves, resist that temptation. 

Have to spend twenty minutes explaining why someone’s emergency operation didn’t go ahead, they are very cross. I also feel cross as it is now 7pm and I have eaten 4 celebrations (sweets) to stop me fainting. Cycle home in the dark. 

Receive email telling me that my study leave application is approved (good) but without funding (bad), the course costs £1050, accommodation and travel will be another £400. That’s half my monthly salary. 

Realise I am insane to do this job and I should have been something much better and more glamorous and well paid. 


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