i was a first year registrar. the senior guy was in the month of his finals and therefore, due to a new concession from the department, he did not have to do calls (only for that one month). therefore his calls were evenly divided between the other registrars. i was the most junior. the medical officer (a year done in surgery before your training officially begins) in the firm was to handle the call. i would only be required if there were problems. i was essentially only one year her senior. i've already mentioned the fact that i was used to being thrown in the deep end, so i was ok with it.
early in the evening, she (the medical officer) phoned and told me about a blunt abdominal trauma patient. the spleen was dammaged and she was going to theater. i told her to call if there were problems. she phoned before the incision, asking me to join her. i was surprised, but i went in.
i let her open. i was going to assist. she hesitantly got into the abdomen...eventually. it was full of blood. she stood back and asked me to take over. once again i was surprised. i stepped up. the spleen was severely ruptured and oozing quite convincingly. the medical officer immediately said-
"i'm so glad you're here. i've only ever seen two splenectomies and done none." i considered telling her that i'd never in my life even seen a splenectomy, but decided she seemed to be in enough of a flat spin without that morsel of information. i had been surprised by her twice. twice was enough. i simply realised she did not have the heart of a surgeon. i couldn't blame her. it is not for everyone.
so i did the splenectomy. (when i was a medical officer in a firm without a registrar due to an overall lack of them, my consultant, in an attempt to not have to come out in the middle of the night when he was on call, had given me a quick lecture on all-you-can-expect-to-see-on-call-and-how-to-handle-it-without-calling-me. in this lecture he had dedicated about 10 minutes to how to whip out a spleen for dummies. i was a dummy so i felt fully equipped).
where was i? oh yes. so i did the splenectomy. the medical officer on a number of occasions repeated that this was above her and that she was so glad i was there. she spurred me on to get that spleen out in double quick time. after all i wasn't sure i could endure her thanking me one more time.
the spleen removed and the patient saved, i left. i figured she could close. (i'll save dehiscence for another day)
so they say see one, do one, teach one, but i sometimes look back and wonder if they really intended you to do all of that in the same procedure.
p.s that medical officer didn't go on with surgery after her medical officer year. she went into obs and gynae where the pressure was somewhat less.