Being a clerk can be stressful. You’re constantly moving to new teams and new wards. It feels like you’re always learning the ropes and just when you’ve got the hang of it, you’re moving on. I feel your stress. Here are some tips on how to be a helpful clerk during your surgical rotations.

1. Ask the resident how they do rounds. 

Every team rounds differently. Find out what the team likes to do when they round. Are you expected to write notes as you go? Do you have to pre round as learners and then round with staff? Ask so that you’re in the know and so that you’re ready to help

2. Ask what your role is during rounds.

As a clerk you want to make rounds as smooth as possible. Find out what the team expects from you. In general, it was my job to go in early and get all the charts on the cart, write down all the vitals, and then write notes as we saw patients. Ask what they expect of you and make sure to deliver.

3. Introduce yourself to nurses on the ward.

The nurses are on the floor while you’re off in the OR. They always know what the patients need and help you keep patients post op. Make sure to introduce yourself. If the nurses end up needing something from your team they know you can share information with residents and staff on their behalf. It also helps you to take better care of patients when you know their whole care team.

4. Introduce yourself to nurses in the OR

Scrub nurses are there to make sure sterility is maintained. Introduce yourself and offer to grab your gloves/gown. If it’s your first time in the OR make sure to tell the nurses. If they know you’re new they know to go slowly and to help you navigate the challenges of scrubbing in. If you’re ever unsure about anything, always ask!

5. Try to write the OR note and post op orders.

Ask the resident if they have a template. It’s ok if you don’t get it right, that’s what the resident is there for. They will check your work and make sure that patients are getting what they need.

6. Read up on cases for the next day. 

Ask where you can find the case list for the next day. It’s always helpful to read up on the anatomy and techniques you can expect to see the next day. Common things are common in general surgery. Things you will most definitely see: inguinal hernia repair, laparoscopic cholecystectomy, and laparoscopic appendectomy.

Feature image via screengrab of Grey’s Anatomy 

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