The past week I had three different labs to learn some new procedures. I never really thought much about performing procedures when I decided to go to med school. I love taking histories and performing physical exams and trying to figure out what is wrong with a patient, but when it comes time to do a procedure, I am a little less excited.
The first lab I had was an airway management lab. I learned to place orophargyngeal and nasopharyngeal airways, as well as how to intubate a patient. It seemed fairly straightforward when learning it in class and watching the video, but when it came time to actually do it, it was harder than I thought. I often find myself limited by my lack of physical strength, and it was really hard to maintain enough upward force with the laryngoscope to visualize the vocal cords. I managed to get the tube in on the first try (thanks to a helpful resident)…but, man, I hope a real patient doesn’t require as much force as that dummy!
Our second lab was a casting lab. We didn’t actually put on full casts, but we did practice sugar tong splints on each other. It was really fun to wrap each other’s arms in bandages. Definitely made me feel like I was about 8 years old, playing doctor with my friends! I made sure to get a picture of me in my splint. (My partner did such a wonderful job!)
The last lab was suture lab. I tried to practice my knots all weekend, and I thought I had them all down pat, but when I came to lab the doctors taught us from a slightly different angle, and it just totally threw me off. Spatial relationships and motor skills are not exactly my strong points. My biggest problem with sutures is that an hour after I practice them, I have completely forgot them. How hard is it to tie a knot!? (It’s harder than you think…trust me.) Oh well…I guess I am just not cut out to be a surgeon!
Surprisingly, I had a lot of fun learning some new skills, but I am still scared at the thought of one day having to perform these procedures on real people. I can’t imagine a patient lying unconscious, unable to breathe, and me attempting to maintain their airway. What if I mess up!?
I mean, I guess there is no point in worrying about it now. It is Future Emily’s problem. It does motivate me, however, to learn as well as I can using models and textbooks so that when the time comes, at least I will know where to start.