10,000 hours to surgery specialisation

A vet students surgery reading list

So the other night I read an article (click here to read the original) where it claimed that to become a specialist surgeon you need 10,000 hours of doing surgery. Before we go any further let’s look at what 10,000 hours is…

416.67 days…
13.7 months
1 year, 1 month and 20 days

So that’s somewhere around 1 year, 1 month and 20 days just stood in an OR doing surgery and nothing else.

With a normal persons average working week Monday – Friday working 9 – 5 which is 2088 hours each year this would take nearly 5 years. And that’s only if the entire day was spent in surgery doing nothing else without and holidays or days off. In normal veterinary practice though sometimes a vet may have just 1 surgery day a week, or may spend 3-4 hours each afternoon doing surgery (around 783 hours in a year). This would take the time needed up over 10 years.

Now I want to specialise in surgery, so far my surgical hours stand at around 50 hours scrubbed in assisting or operating… Just 0.5% of what I actually need, so guess that makes me 0.5% of a surgeon. I want to specialise in surgery, it’s the biggest buzz ever knowing that in a few hours a problem can be fixed, and a life can be improved. Yet it’s a learning curve, every day I am learning loads of new things. Especially when it comes to practical experience, the amount of force required to separate connective tissue can be rather considerable for example.

The study required however is immense, todays photo shows just some of the surgery books that I am reading to support just what I am seeing currently. Let alone the additional reading that I must do for my normal subjects.

I disagree with the sentiment of the original article that to become a specialist surgeon is all about the number of hours you spend operating. I think being a specialist surgeon is about the passion and dedication to the immense learning required to be able to effectively and efficiently improve life within the operating theatre. This may take as many hours as necessary, and for each person may vary, but each and every one of them hours will teach you something new.

Seeing some Equine Practice…

Inside the Equine Operating Theatre

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Spikes World Wildlife Foods

I know I am being really bad at keeping my daily diary post at the moment, I’ve got a ton that I’ve started and not finished, and some weeks I’ve just been too busy with work and study that I’ve simply not had time to start. I am now realising why vet school is so tough and though I’ve started my exams I still have a fair few to go. I have however also managed to get onto a couple of clinics to get a chance to turn my theoretical knowledge into something more practical. At the moment it is the equine service and so far I’ve used what I know about wound healing, and today anatomy came into play in a big way in the equine operating room.

Inside the Equine Operating TheatreNow this morning started with a wound check for a thoroughbred patient that had kicked something with a back foot taking a lot of the skin off. This was a primary closure (closed with surgical stitches) and some nice granulation tissue has started to form here. So after cleaning and rebandaging this we moved onto the next patient…

Now this case came in over the weekend sometime and proved to be very interesting for me as I got to see how a farrier works with the hoofs to tidy them up. The main presenting problem however was nasal discharge and a endoscopic examination had been scheduled for the nasal and respiratory passages. I found this fascinating as its ok seeing something in anatomy class, however when its actually inside an animal where it belongs things start to fall into place and I managed to keep up on where inside the head the scope was!

In this case it was a early stage infection within the guttural pouch, and a sample of purulent fluid was collected for microbiological sensitivity testing to determine the best antibiotics to use to treat it. Then a lavage (wash)  was carried out with the infected area being washed with an antiseptic solution and then this being suctioned out for both sides.

Final case today was another foot injury which needed a flap of the skin cutting away to give a flat surface. I think the big lesson to learn is to make sure that horses have as little as possible to kick at! Equine wounds like this can take months to heal, and often are extremely painful for the horse as well.