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Why Obs and Gynae? by Dan Borlase

Each year, the RCOG invites foundation trainees to tell us why they’ve chosen a career in O&G for the Why Obs and Gynae? prize.

This is a submission from Dan Borlase, an FY2 at William Harvey Hospital, Kent.

Why obs and gynae?

Sometimes I wonder whether or not Prof O’Brien had trouble taking me seriously – as I eagerly squeezed simulated menstrual fluid out of Always sanitary towels in desperation to get my name on a research paper. Believe it or not, it was at this time I first had an inkling about which direction I was heading; and now I hope to thank all the enthusiastic consultants and registrars who tutored me throughout my 11 week rotation at medical school in years to come.

But it wasn’t until four o’clock one sunny afternoon during my rotation as a supernumerary FY1 that I confirmed my ambitions. In hindsight, what I thought was protecting her perineum and what I actually did may have been a little different – but the sudden excitement about the rather fast and impending delivery overwhelmed me. I got better at learning to control this excitement as the months went on. I got better at catching too, and suturing as it happens – but my passion for having some part in the safe delivery of these babies remained and is something I already miss as I enter my FY2 year.

Amongst the many ‘crash sections’, elective sections, forceps deliveries and pathological CTGs, one of my most exciting experiences as an O&G house officer include arriving in A&E to see a young lady, bleeding and in a lot of pain. Of course, there was a swift call made to my registrar the moment I set eyes on her (and the blood pressure monitor reading ”not much” over “a bit less than that”) and I took great pleasure in replacing the pink cannula with two wide bore greys before helping to take her to theatre. I saw that ruptured ectopic that night with my own eyes, adding to the two litres of blood that was already filling her abdomen. Without a doubt that was the first time in my life, let alone my career, that I truly felt rewarded. We saved a life that night.

Another of my fond experiences was the trust (and maybe complete madness) my senior house officer and registrar had in me to complete my first start to finish elective caesarean section. Most people are happy enough to tally the number of appendectomies they did as housemen, but I’m pretty happy with that one moment, my moment of delivering a healthy boy in such unnatural circumstance. Of course I didn’t tell the mother until the morning after that I’d never done one before! She smiled. I think it was a smile.

I wouldn’t want to fool myself into thinking it’s all sun, dance and an easy ride and I’ve witnessed firsthand how sometimes things do go dreadfully wrong. One of the hardest parts of the job, so it seems, is that you care for two patients; count three if you consider the inconsolable father crying with either tears of joy, pride or pain in the corner of the delivery room.

I aspire to follow in the footsteps of the people who have trained me and given me these opportunities and top become an obstetrician and gynaecologist. My first goal is to study for and sit my part 1 of the MRCOG. I want to be able to teach along the way and at some point be a part of some research projects during my training, which may or may not involve a different brand of sanitary wear.

I’m still not sure exactly what it is that attracts me to obstetrics in particular. Hopefully I’ll find that out as I go through my years of training – whether it’s the breadth of the specialty, the pace of life, the quick decision making, the mixture between medicine and surgery, a young and old patient population, people from every walk of life or Mrs Smith’s fourth set of 48-hour beta-hCGs from the Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit. I’m not sure, but there is something very unique and fun about it compared to other specialities and I can’t wait.

Elsewhere on the site

Specialty training in O&G
An overview of the specialty training programme in obstetrics and gynaecology
Applying for specialty training
How to apply for the specialty training programme in O&G