Week 31: Surgery

week 31 (surgery ward)

week 31 (pgh) week 31 (pgh)
week 31 (lennie)
week 31 (sutures!) week 31 (suturing)
week 31 (breast clinic)

I spent most of my waking hours in the Surgery Department, my first rotation as an Integrated Clinical Clerk (ICC), a fancy name for a third year medical student in the UP College of Medicine.

I removed sutures from a 21-year old female who sustained head lacerations due to a vehicular crash. The trauma resident only did it once before he left Migz Catangui and I on our own devices. It was the see-one-do-one principle of learning; the young doctor still had to cater to a lot of patients in the clinic.  I'm thankful, though, that he still took the time to explain important things to us.

It was the first time I filled out a patient's chart, a piece of paper that would be passed on as the patient's official hospital record. I had to make the resident confirm the findings, and I'm glad he did. Just before she left, her aunt asked me to draft a clinical abstract for funding assistance.

It dawned on me that the reason why doctors have such awful handwriting, likened to the unintelligible scribbling of a fowl—forgive the allusion to the Ilonggo idiomatic expression, "daw kinahig sang manok"—is that there is simply a lot of paperwork to accomplish in so little time.

My block had a suturing session on pata, and I thank my friends Lee-Ann Caro and Migz Catangui for guiding me through the process. We all had a crispy pata the day after.

Perhaps the most memorable experience I had this week was our rotation at the Breast Clinic of the Cancer Institute. The Clinic is busy, catering to an average of 100 patients daily for free of charge. I expected the place to be depressing, but there was a lot of laughter, chatter, and friendly talk. The nurses were surprisingly accommodating.

There we met a 39-year old woman who came because of a recurrent breast mass. She seemed troubled and uncomfortable. Until she has the mass biopsied, we said, we could never be certain if the tumor is benign or malignant. I'm glad I got to work with Lennie Chua, a classmate whose example reminds me to look at patients as human beings, not disease entities.

This was a week of firsts. And I'm looking forward to the weeks ahead.


  1. i'm looking forward to your rotation in ward 5 and ward 7, kuya lance. write about them please. i would love some update from my favorite wards in PGH.

    i know you'll be a great doctor.:)

    -ella lao

  2. Kuya! Congrats on your first successful operation! :D -mike

  3. Hi, Flor (siyempre, Flor gihapon tawag ko sa imo!). Sure, I'll keep tabs on that request.

    Salamat, Mike! I'll probably write about the experience soon.


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