By Christopher Gee
Trauma and Orthopaedics is a fantastic speciality where the decisions you make and the operations you perform will have a profound effect on the quality of life your patients experience. There is a huge amount of variation in the different areas of subspecialisation within T&O so there really is something for everyone.
Options include: Hand and Wrist, Shoulder and Elbow, Hip and Knee, Sports Surgery, Foot and ankle, Spine, Paediatric Orthopaedics and Limb Reconstruction.
I specialise in hip and knee replacements and sports and trauma surgery on the knee.
My standard week (prior to COVID) would begin with a Monday acute knee clinic. I would see patients who had injured their knee that are young, sporty and keen to get back to the sports they love. I would spend time explaining their injuries to them, reassuring them where possible and working out which patients need surgery. In the afternoon I would do a fracture clinic seeing all the patients who have broken bones that don’t need or have had surgery for trauma that need seen in clinic to check they are ok, make sure the fracture is healing etc.
On a Tuesday and Wednesday I would spend my time doing admin, a ward round, teaching, catching up on any research projects and running the teaching programme for the registrars in the region. I am an Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer at the University of Glasgow and use this time to also work with medical students. That would include working on the Unofficial Guide to Medicine series and I have published chapters and a book from the award winning series. Beyond my clinical work education is my passion but there are options to be involved in leadership projects, service design and improvement, research and education depending on what you enjoy.
On a Thursday I would have a clinic with patients needing hip and knee replacements and those who need keyhole surgery on the knee. I would also spend the time planning for the next day which is my theatre day for the week. We would aim to do around 4 cases a day depending on how long they each take but it could be that I start with an ACL reconstruction followed by some simpler keyhole operations and then some joint replacements in the afternoon.
Once every 10 weeks I am the trauma consultant on call and this involves seeing all the emergency admissions, planning which patients need their fractures fixed and when they are done. I would then spend the day in the trauma theatre operating and training juniors to fix bones.
I absolutely love my speciality. There is a good balance in terms of workload and like I said there really is something for everyone. While I am not up at all hours making life and death decisions, my career takes peoples pain away from the arthritis they have, gets them back to work after they have injured themselves or allows them to return to the sports they enjoy. So, it is about quality of life and for many of my patients that is the same as saving their life. It’s a hands on practical speciality that I love. I can promise Orthopaedic Surgeons are fun, friendly and love nothing more than engaging with others who share their enthusiasm for this wonderful speciality.