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What it’s like in colon and rectal surgery: Shadowing Dr. Mongiu

As a medical student, have you ever wondered what it feels like to specialize in colorectal surgery? Meet AMA Member Anne Mongiu, MD, colorectal surgeon and AMA Distinguished Doctor Specialized “Shadow Me” series, which provides first-hand advice from clinicians about life in their specialties. Check out her insights to help decide if a career in colorectal surgery is right for you.

The AMA Specialty Guide simplifies the medical student major selection process, highlights major specialties, detailed training information, and provides access to relevant association information. Produced by FREIDA™, the AMA Residency & Fellowship Database®.

Learn more with the AMA about the medical specialty of colorectal surgery.

“Shading” Dr. Mungyu

specialty: Colon and rectal surgery.

Practice setting: Academic medical practice.

Type of the job: University Hospital.

years in practice: three.

A typical day and week in my practice: The normal work week operates on Mondays and Thursdays. One of those days is usually the big robotic cases in the abdomen. The other is small anal or anal surgeries. Tuesday and Wednesday I see patients in the clinic. Fridays are my academic days and I try to work on the research and administrative tasks that I do at the university. The hours depend on whether you are on call or not. Clinic days are from 7:30 am to 5 or 6 pm, while work days can be delayed in the evening, depending on the situation.

The most challenging and rewarding aspects of colorectal surgery: Meet patients wherever they are and help them improve their health, whether it is a treatment for cancer or BBD. Patients often have poor illness as well as other accompanying problems such as alcohol or drug abuse, or social problems such as homelessness or non-compliance with medication. However, they still need treatment which can be difficult. The rewarding part is when you not only fix their problem, but also make them healthier overall.

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How life in colorectal surgery has been affected by the global epidemic: My Brooklyn clinic has been almost completely closed for a few months due to the pandemic and patients have been slow to return to the hospital for fear of contracting COVID-19. In the academic center where I am now, this was not a problem.

Long-term impact of the epidemic on colorectal surgery: Minimum if any. People with cancer will need surgery to remove it. There is a cumulative number of patients who did not undergo colonoscopy during the early months of the epidemic. We’re detecting an increasing volume of crabs right now, so we’re a little busier than usual.

Three adjectives to describe a typical colorectal surgeon: Funny, patient, flexible.

How does my lifestyle match or differ from what I imagined: The surgeon’s lifestyle was adequately represented by my experience at Northwestern University School of Medicine. It’s tough. The hours are long. You will never be able to put your phone away even if you are not online. However, I have the best job in the world. I love being able to help return patients to better health whether it’s from small anal disorders, large colon cancers, or benign abdominal diseases. Dealing with long-term patient follow-up, which you rarely see in medical school and residency, is both fun and challenging.

Skills that every physician should have in training regarding colorectal surgery but will not be tested in a board exam: Self-confidence gets you through the toughest surgeries when you really want to doubt yourself and other people might be embarrassed. Also, a high sense of organization just as much as your daily routine if you plan to be in academic medicine.

One question clinicians in training should ask themselves before pursuing colorectal surgery: Are you ready for the commitment that surgery requires? All careers in medicine are difficult. As a surgeon, you have to realize that the hours never improve after a stay. They are different. Instead of being filled with exploratory work, your days are filled with more meaningful clinical work. You have to do the big issues, but you also take responsibility when things go wrong. The surgeon’s lifestyle will always be where the job comes first.

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Every medical student interested in colorectal surgery should read: Colon and rectal diseases It is our community magazine. can also be followed Twitter. Beyond that, I would tell medical students to pick and read three books that don’t involve medicine at all. The time to start ending your life and making room for it begins when you’re in medical school.

Online resource students interested in Colon and rectal surgery Must follow: Some of my best online resources are the Facebook groups for robotic surgeons. I think you have to be a practicing physician to be a member of a number of them. We share videos and techniques which I find very useful for learning. YouTube is also an excellent source for surgical videos and technique to understand.

Quick insights I would give to students considering colorectal surgery: In any surgical specialty, remember that you are not choosing the most remarkable case, you are also choosing the most ordinary case. Robotic colorectal surgery is amazing, but if you hate hemorrhoids, anal fissures, and fistulas, colorectal surgery probably isn’t for you. Don’t choose a field based on what you perceive as payoff, as this is always changing.

The hours are very long in all areas of medicine. Really choose the area that resonates most with you. And with your ability, choose an area that you think you will enjoy in 20 years when you have a partner and maybe a family. Really get to know some of the attendees in your field. Watch what they do in their spare time and see what they have time to do. See if it resonates with where you imagine yourself.

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