There was one patient who recently had a colonoscopy then was discharged home to find that he/she started having some abdominal pain. Later that day, through the ER, the patient arrived back in the OR for a ruptured spleen! There was a capsular tear (grade II splenic injury), and due to the amount of bleeding the spleen was removed and bleeding was controlled with sutures. Thanks to skilled surgeons, the patient did well in surgery and went stable to the PACU.
A unique role as a PA in general surgery is that there are many different surgeons, who all like to do things differently-- from suturing to cleaning the camera lens, each surgeon differs. As a PA, you not only have to know what is going on in the surgery but also be a step and a half ahead. This is what makes a good surgical PA, perceptiveness and attentiveness. Obviously, being proficient in suturing, laparoscopic skills, and other OR skills is a necessity, but mentally, you have to be prepared as well.
The surgery team I worked with was very nice, after demonstrating some skills, they allowed me to suture more port sites, wounds and other tasks as the rotation continues. Each surgeon is different but most allow PA's to close the wounds after the majority of the surgery is over.
I look forward to my last week here because I feel like I cannot get enough of my time in the OR. (Then again, my next rotation is Ortho, where we will be spending lots of time in the OR.)
On a side note:
Fortunately, I met a perfusionist in the hallway who introduced me to the cardiothoracic team during my time in general surgery as all the OR's are right next to one another. Nervous and intimidated I walked into the OR where they were closing up the chest. I almost thought I was "sneaking out" in a way, like a little kid stealing candy (but general surgery didn't care). Unbeknownst to me, they were some of the friendliest people I ever met!... so much so that they even took me on their team for a few days! Some of my best days were spent with this team as they were eager to teach and let me practice new skills. By the end of my time with them I was intubating patients in the OR and the floor, placing drains in OR, removing them on the floors, suturing all sorts of things and loving every minute of it! The surgeries were long, but they felt so short! The time just flew by! Before I knew it were were taking the patient off the pump and closing the chest. The PA's were even closing the large wounds once the surgery was over, they have such autonomy here. A nice twist to their team was that the PA's did not only reside in the OR, but also managed the patients themselves while they were in the ICU/CCU. The PA's were a vital part of the CTS team and I couldn't help but idolize them. They had a higher level of responsibility than PA's on any other rotation I had been on-- I was envious. This is what I dreamed of, this is what I always wanted when I decided to go to PA school, this is who I want to be. Thankfully, they were friendly enough to invite me to stay for an elective with them. I cannot wait to learn more skills with them at my side. It feels so surreal, but this is it, this is where I will find out, might I actually become a cardiothoracic PA?