Medicine vs Surgery

I am sure from my posts, many of you would have noticed that I have recently changed postings. As a house officer in Singapore, we are to complete 3 postings of 4 months each in a government hospital. During this first year, we still hold a provisional medical license and we are still considered undergoing training (even though they give us the privilege of having a Dr. on our name tags :p). I have completed 8 months of my journey. My first 4 months was in the general surgery department in Tan Tock Seng Hospital. My next 4 was in Orthopaedic surgery at Khoo Teck Puat hospital. And now, I am in the general medicine department at tan Tock seng hospital.

In this post, I just want to share with you the stark difference between medical and surgical specialties. Simply put, surgical specialities involves the doctor or surgeon cutting people up while medical specialties involves doctors having strong knowledge behind what drugs to give for what conditions.

Surgeons as their name implies, need to do surgery. A surgeon typically enters the operating theatre at 8:30 in the morning with their first case starting at 9am. They call it “knife to skin” I.e. they start to cut you up at 9 sharp. This means, we need to round our inpatient patients (as I am typing this post I think many of you will not understand what the heck I’m writing – maybe I will do another post on what we actually do later) early. Like 7am. After a quick round of 1 hour, we usually head for breakfast downstairs at the food court. And over breakfast, we discuss what to do for our patients throughout the day. (There was a time someone stomped us saying doctors should stop slacking and start their clinics – but see we are actually doing something important k…). They then head to the OT or their clinics at 9.

To us house officers, this means a quick round – we can round 10 + patients in an hour sometimes even more when we have more manpower. After breakfast, we are to settle all changes before exit rounds (I will tell you what changes we do in a later post as well). I love quick rounds. Quick and sharp. Cut or don’t cut.

Medical doctors, operate on a different wave length. As they do not go to the operating theatre, we start rounds slightly later. About 9am. Though as house officers, we need to come in as early as 7am to do pre rounds. Then when the consultant comes, we do the real round. Usually at this point, the patient has been seen by me, then by my medical officer, then by my registrar then now by the consultant. We take 15min to 45min for each patient depending on the complexity of the case. This means to us house officers, it’s gonna be a long round. We usually finish at 12-1pm. Having said that, most changes are done during the rounds itself. At this point, one would have been standing on his legs for non stop 3-4 hours…

So one difference is the length of rounds. And of course as a runner, which type of rounds do I prefer? 😉

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