When I was younger, my dad’s digital camera used to terrify me so much because of the album that had patients’ pictures with their organs exposed on the operating table. I later realised that those pictures are important in research and medical examinations. The thought of ever seeing a human cut up on a table discouraged me from Medicine and surgery as a course but I later came back to it, it’s always been my first love (only love initially until I realised that I have other great interests). I also realised that I do not necessarily have to specialise in surgery after training.

On resumption into clinical school, as if to test my fears, I was included in the group posted to the surgical unit and put in the oncological surgery subdivision (even scarier staying around doctors treating cancer patients). We missed our first day in theatre as the group didn’t meet up with some protocol requirements. We later introduced ourselves to the consultant in charge and the residents after which we got our posting schedule for the unit.

On the day I finally got to the theatre suite as a student, I was in awe as I crossed the “red line” (the boundary between the sterile operating suites and the unsterilised part of the theatre complex, non medical personnel are not allowed to cross the red line). ( Picturecredit: pexels)

Even though it wasn’t my first time in a theatre (I had a surgery in 2013), it was exciting wearing scrubs, masks and the sterile hair nets as observers in a surgery. We were put in subgroups to reduce the number of people in the operating suite at a time and provide better viewing for us as students. I was part of the first group of students to enter the suite and I saw the patient under general anesthesia. The consultant scrubbed up in the scrub room and wore his disposable overall over his theatre gown and the surgery began. It was a total mastectomy (removal of the breasts). After sterilising the surgical site, the surgeon used a diarthmy pencil to cut out the edges of the site (in layman’s terms). The surgeon asked us some questions about the procedure and till today, I am grateful to my group members who helped me out as the questions were directed at me. That was all I observed during the surgery but I got to observe full procedures subsequently.

I learnt quite a lot from this experience. I got overwhelmed because of the intricate details that have to be observed during surgeries. I thought about some of the possible complications like reaction to anesthesia, severe blood loss, shock etc. that could occur even in the simplest procedures. I was really grateful to God for saving me through the surgery I had in 2013 and this made me cry. I also realised how hardworking surgeons are and the delicate job that they do, they sure deserve all the accolades. Picture credit: pexels free photos.

The importance of studying diligently as a student was also evident as I do not want to become a doctor that does not have the required medical knowledge or has to depend on colleagues to answer questions.

I hope you enjoyed this piece as I much as I did while writing.

Please share your thoughts, comment, like and subscribe. Thank you.


  1. We have similar experience with first surgery observed. Nice piece. Detailed enough for non-medics to relate


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