What’s it like being a Core Surgery Trainee?

Let's talk about the surgery trainee that you must take into account in all your preparation as a doctor, we will leave an example so that you have a clearer idea of what we are referring to.

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My name is Eoin Dinneen.  I am a Core Surgery Trainee Year 2 working at the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital in central west London.  That means I am 4 and a half years graduated from the University of Bristol.  I have done my first 2 years as a doctor (Foundation Year One and Foundation Year Two) and I have started on my training to become a Consultant Urological Surgeon.  In old money, this makes me an SHO.  I am interested in becoming a urologist and happily that is also actually the surgical speciality I am working in currently.

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

One of the best days about my job currently is the day to day variety in what I do.  A lot of the time, as a surgical SHO (or Core Trainee) I hold the Bleep for the Surgery Service.  The ‘Bleep’ is called the ‘Bleep’ because most people who have ever had to hold it want to throw it out the window and call it an expletive that should not be repeated in polite company.  Basically, if a patient comes in to Accident and Emergency, and the doctor who sees that patient thinks they have an Acute Surgical Problem, they call (or bleep) the holder of said Bleep to come down, see the patient, assess them and decide what treatment, if any, is required.  Its a fun job being in the thick of it, but it is very very busy, the Bleep can be going off (or bleeping) what feels like every thirty bleeping seconds, and frankly the sound it makes is a shrill rattle that molests me to my core!  (You may be able to tell that I have just finished a stretch of nightshifts where one’s chief role is to hold the bleep.)

When I am not the Bleep holder, I am to be found in Operating Theatres doing urological procedures with the Consultants, leading the ward round with my junior colleagues of all the Urology inpatients, seeing patients in clinic, and lastly (shock horror) sometimes I can be found in the cafe!

What’s the best part about the job?

Hmmmmm, best part of the job? Well, fortunately, I really like being a doctor, so I see a lot of positives in it altogether.  Not all my colleagues are so effusive about being a medic.  But the best bits, here goes.  Essentially, being a doctor is an incredibly human job!  We see humans as patients, we work with fellow humans as colleagues, we teach humans as medical students.  I spend my whole day, almost everyday, having one long stream of interactions with other humans.  If you like people, and you get on with them well, this is a really fabulous way to spend one’s life.  The fact that I play a role in making people feel better, or feel less pain, or feel reassured, or remove their cancer…. well that really is a terrific thing too.  The fact that I get paid to do all this, frankly I can’t believe my luck!

On top of this, the best bits are the infrequent occasions when patients get you a present to say thanks for your hard work!  That really does make me swell up with pride.  The thought that someone has been so impressed by my care that they are moved to spend time and a bit of money to show their gratification is frankly thrilling. (For instance, how many estate agents do you think get presents from their clients!?)

Lastly, regarding the best part of my job…  Some of the weird, sad, unlikely, hilarious and wonderful stories that I come across either directly or in passing on the wards, in theatres and down in Accident and Emergency are very rich material.  Some of them are so improbable and comic, or devastating and heart wrenching that I feel I must write them down, so I do.  Sometimes I watch ’24 hours in A&E’, not often because it stresses me out, but the stuff that is shown in that program is really very like what I see everyday and it is great.


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