Day 117 - So You Want to be a Surgeon (19/01/2018)

In hospital once again – today the theme was ‘cranial nerves’, easily adaptable to medical workshops, birthday parties and bat mitzvahs at your convenience. Clinical skills first thing was a recap of the functions of each of the twelve cranial nerves, and more crucially how to examine them in a clinical setting.

I’m considering doing a few videos on mnemonics I’ve found helpful, and as most anyone will tell you, it’s the dirty (or sometimes approaching plain filth) examples that work the best. Nowhere is that more true than with the classic mnemonic for remembering the cranial nerves. It’s quite funny watching academics try to skirt around them during lectures, although a few of the doctors not only encourage us to use them but provide their own examples of such mnemonics, clearly refined into morbid, festering form over successful careers. I am neither of these two categories of person and so therefore I can probably post it here.

In this particular case, I am referring to Oh, Oh, Oh, To Touch And Feel a Virgin Girl’s Vagina And Hymen. This gives us the first letter of the twelve nerves – Olfactory, Optic, Occulmotor, Trochlear, Trigeminal, Abducens, Facial, Vestibulocochlear, Glossopharyngeal, Vagus, Accessory and Hypoglossal. A bit misogynistic to be sure, but it’s very effective as a memory device.

After a very brief lunch the afternoon was consumed by radiology, an anatomy seminar and the anatomy workshops themselves. I got to the radiology session early by accident and had an intriguing conversation with two staff about the comparatively much lower levels of responsibility afforded to medical students in current education – probably a facet of increased legislation. He Who Must Not Be Named (Jeremy Hunt MP) was also a point of interest, as that morning he had proudly tweeted a wall chart from an Ipswich hospital, despite the fact that it showed four wards were understaffed that day. Remarkable. My completion level of the anatomy workbook this week stood at a mighty 0% on account of trying to keep up with the basic lecture content, but thankfully I managed to stumble through all six stations without embarrassing myself too much – the trick is to aggressively answer anything that you do know before anyone else, so the demonstrator is less likely to pick on you. Little did they know (they probably did know) that I was confident of about six distinct facts and not much else.

In the evening I attended an event put on by the Surgery society – ‘So You Want to be a Surgeon’. Four surgeons gave a whistle-stop tour through their careers, and it was a refreshingly honest description of their roles, both the good and bad. I find that talking to doctors in general there is an underlying theme – ‘the money’s not great, the hours are crap and it can be difficult to make things work with your personal life. But it is doable, and I wouldn’t do anything else’. Myself and a first year colleague exchanged contact details with one of the surgeons and there seems to be a possibility of some theatre time with her, which is a fantastic opportunity.