And review books to boot!

How to prepare for a general surgery residency

So you’re almost there. You’re almost a general surgery resident. Keyword, almost. Which means of course, that you have some extra time to remedy any weaknesses or deficiencies or spruce up your strengths before starting. Your first day will be painful, but there are things you can do to make it less so.

After talking to several residents and doing my own little internet research, I’ve come up with this list.

Ideal rotations before general surgery residency
– Other than that, I did a Gastroenterology rotation (learned how to scope),
– radiology rotation (learned how to read everything) and a
– cardiovascular anesthesia rotation (learned the ICU drugs and Swan insertions well).

“Those electives helped me to be a better resident because I had a solid knowledge base.” says one attending.

Good books to skim through before residency
– Sabiston
– Washington Manual Surgery
– Washington Manual Surgery Survival Guide
– Radiology book
A resident commented “I absolutely agree that you should increase your understanding of radiology…specifically CXRs and CTs of the abdomen/pelvis.”

– Lawrence books (General Surgery and Surgical Subspecialties), answered all of the questions.
“That was a solid knowldege base for me to start residency.” says an attending.
A 4th year surgery resident wrote: “As for textbooks, I’d wait until you match, then find out which text you’ll be using for didactics at your new residency….otherwise you’re out a couple hundred bucks. If you just want something you can read in the library without purchasing, my personal bias is for Sabiston.” SDN

Journal articles
One resident writes: “Also, it’s never too early to develop good habits when it comes to reading journal articles….you’ll find it hard to keep up with these once you’re swamped with residency. You may even end up impressing some people on your interview with your knowledge…but only if you are asked….bring it up in a “guess what I know” fashion and it will just make you look stupid. My personal suggestions: JACS, Am J Surgery, Annals of Surgery, Trauma, DCR, JAMA, N Eng J Med.” SDN

Other resources

While in residency, residents must make time to study. An attending, reminices on her studying days: “During residency, I forced myself to read at least 30 minutes per day and 2 hours on the weekend (Sabiston) but I would never have bothered with any of the big three texts before seeing where I was going to match. I ended up getting Sabiston and Greenfield free at my program. I kept up with the journals and made regular reading a habit.” SDN

Of course there are those who say studying before residency is a violation of common sense. After all, would you rather being doing something fun? One resident put it this way: “I would STRONGLY recommend you avoid this behavior completely. Enjoy 4th year. It’ll be the last extended relaxing period you have for a loooong time. Go out with friends, stay up late, sleep in, spend time with your s/o, get really good at Guitar Hero, whatever. Surgery residency is long, hard, grueling, and isolating. Take advantage of your free time and enjoy the fourth year. Whatever small amount of time you spend reading will be better spent playing video games.” SDN

Finally, get some exercise! One resident put it this way. “Most importantly: In between drinking and guitar hero, don’t forget to do some cardio…’s easy to pack on 15 or so pounds during your late MS4 months.” SDN



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