A surgeon is an altricial animal

When I was a very young medical student (just 18 when I began medical school and 22 when I finished- it’s not postgraduate in the UK) I was a rather altricial sort of a creature. I was a product of a state education, from a family where although we were not poor I was first person to go to university. I was unsure of so much, how to behave, how to get my point across and yet also full of passion and enthusiasm for my chosen career. It has taken a lot of years for me to become the sort of woman who doesn’t mess up the dress code, never rips her tights, doesn’t forget things, doesn’t get drunk at a drug rep dinner and never falls over on too high heels.

Some people are more precocious than me, they are fully hatched at birth and function like mini consultants from the minute they get in to medical school. Much like it’s hard to imagine William Hague as a teenager, these people have some sort of inner mini consultant.

The thing about these annoying people who act like they are the “big I am” from the minute they arrive on a ward, is that they don’t learn or develop very much. One of my colleagues is this sort of a guy.

Like a newborn foal stumbling to his feet within minutes of birth, he has adopted the authority and gravitas of a professor of surgery. All of this would be great if he was any good, if he made good decisions and was in fact ready to be the boss, but he’s an idiot. He has no insight whatsoever into his many mistakes and massive cockups. I am partly fascinated and partly appalled by him.

The good thing about Bighospital, which makes it rather unusual in many ways, is that nobody gives a shit if you have a PhD, 25 publications, and are an expert on something (beware anyone who calls himself as expert) if you can’t do a difficult hernia or a Hartmanns’ operation on your own.

That’s not to say that we don’t expect the PhD and publications, we just judge you by how you do the job, as many people have discovered and then been sent away somewhere else to opine on radio 4 Women’s Hour and focus on academia.

The newly arrived smart arse has had to call for help in theatre during a not even very difficult hernia. Along came one of our very dry and clever consultants who took one look at the unshaved groin and the rather messy situation and headed off to wash his hands. Smart arse started gibbering trying to justify his inability to deal with it all.

The boss asked him just two questions whilst he did the operation; “Do you like blood?” when he first arrived at the table surveying the horrific scene. And the second as they finished the operation and began to close the skin, the full extent of his inadequate preoperative preparation was revealed and he asked him “Do you like pubes?”.

Hahaha. Take that new boy, don’t talk the talk until you can walk the walk.

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7 thoughts on “A surgeon is an altricial animal

    • Yes I have. I think she must now be wishing that she kept her blog anonymous. The daily mail seem to have plundered her mother’s facebook page to augment their article with photographs.

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