Longitudinal Placements (LP) are clinical observerships organized by the student in the domain of his/her choice to gain relevant clinical knowledge in that area of medicine.
What LP did you do?
I did an LP in Plastic Surgery at McMaster University Medical Centre.
How did you go about contacting and arranging the LP?
I met a Plastic Surgery resident who helped me set up an LP with a plastic surgeon. The process of setting this LP up was really difficult because there was a lot of pre-placement work to be done: OR security access, OR orientation, Scrub Session, etc.
What were the two main things you learned from the LP?
1. In my LP, I saw burn patients and patients post-op follow ups in the clinic; mastectomy for gynecomastia and surgery for syndactyly in OR; Basal Cell Carcinoma removal in minor procedures. Before my placement, I asked the surgeon's secretary for a list of surgeries he will be performing that day so that I can read up on them beforehand. It definitely helps to be prepared. Surgical procedures are usually reserved for last resort so when reading about the cases, I focused on why this patient is going in for this surgery/procedure and what indications did the patient have that surgery was suggested for treatment.
2. I learned the proper names of tools and how to use them (there's quite a few). I had the opportunity to assist the resident as well. He showed me how to cut sutures at an angle to avoid the knot and different types of sutures/patterns. The surgeon also took a bit of his time to explain local anesthesia to me.
What did you wish you knew beforehand to help you in your LP?
Operating Room Etiquette! I had to do an OR Orientation and Scrub session before my first placement so I really only know how to properly scrub in. I wish I knew that it's OR etiquette to get my own gloves, to help get the bed when the patient is ready to leave OR, etc.
I also wish I practiced putting on sterile gloves in the absence of a scrub nurse and sterile gown. It's a challenge! TIP: Make sure the Avagard on your hands is DRY before putting gloves on, or else your hands are NOT going to go in.
How has this experience helped you clinically, in class and/or in career decision making?
The surgeon allowed me to scrub in so I had a lot of hands-on experience. I really liked my experience in plastics! The OR skills I learned are all transferable. I definitely got to see the surgical side of treatment.