The Rivers School
Kate Eselius: Orthopedic Surgery at BMC
Hi everyone! My name is Kate Eselius and I have been extremely lucky to intern with Dr. Stein in the Orthopedic Surgery Department at the Boston Medical Center. It has been awesome!
So far, I have met over 300 patients, each with their own very interesting story, and I have seen over fifty surgeries, mostly related to repairing intricate aspects of patients’ hands.
The average day of a surgeon is intense. Residents and medical students round on patients before the sun comes up. Daily meetings begin at 6:15am with board rounds (a meeting of the whole department), M&Ms (a meeting to discuss complicated cases), and other presentations. Then, the day truly begins with the first surgery starting at 7:30 am in the operating room. With the lead surgeon, attending physicians, residents, anesthesiologists, nurses, and students (including me) all present, the team is ready to operate. Because the BMC is a teaching hospital, Dr. Stein explains what he is doing and points out interesting things for everyone to note while the surgery is taking place. With hand procedures, the majority of cases take place in a smaller operating room, in which patients undergo local anesthesia in the surgical site and some additional medication to make them sleep.
Surgeries that require general anesthesia take place in a larger operating room. I have seen a whole range of procedures, including carpal tunnel releases that relieve pain and numbing sensations in the fingers, trigger finger releases that allow the tendons to move the fingers more easily, the insertion of bone screws to help fractures heal, and ray amputations to remove infected fingers. I have also observed procedures involving shoulders, elbows, and knees.
Not only have I learned a lot about hand anatomy, surgical procedures, and how surgical teams operate, I have also learned a lot about patients’ lives. Clinic days can be just as intense as surgery days, but in a different way. Hearing about the challenges some patients face with their employment, addiction and the criminal justice system has broadened my understanding of what life is like for different people. These people are sometimes dealing with much more than their injury, often with great strength. Dr. Stein and the other doctors listen to patients’ stories with incredible patience and compassion, sometimes through a language barrier. Every patient is unique, and the doctors have to consider their whole profile while trying to figure out the best way to help.
I have loved shadowing Dr. Stein these past several weeks and am excited to continue meeting new patients, observing more interesting surgeries, and learning more about what it will be like to pursue a career in the medical field in the coming weeks.