In the second year principles of surgery course, my classmates and I got to learn about topics ranging from the stages of wound healing to the types of dressing appropriate for different wounds to the ins and outs of orthopedic implants used for different types of fractures. Though the course was primarily lecture-based and we spent no time observing actual surgeries, the professors would always hammer home the necessity of sticking to operating room protocol. We learned how to properly prepare for aseptic surgery and maintain sterility throughout the process. Perhaps the take-away point from the entire experience was to mentally prepare ourselves for the third-year course load, which is heavy on medicine and surgery.
The two more hands-on aspects of this introductory course were that we got to practice our suture techniques as well as handle a plethora of surgical instruments. The latter consisted of us getting a feel for the various types while remembering their functions. I must admit that it was difficult to keep track of all the surnames associated with the instruments. Trying to remember that Balfour, Senn, and Finochietto retractors were self-retaining while all the other ones were not was an exercise in pure memorization, but I imagine knowing all the differences will be useful in the near future. Perhaps of even more importance was getting the chance to work on our knot-tying techniques, including practicing on each other’s arms! One of the surgeons walked us through two sessions in the anatomy lab during which we practice many different suture patterns. Though we mostly worked on tough skin from the cadaver of a pig, the chance to build up our muscle memory for such an important skill was a big plus that the class offered.