The Children’s Surgical Centre is home to a number of surgeons-in-training throughout the year. They’ve travelled far and wide from medical schools and training programmes across both Phnom Penh and Cambodia. During my short time here, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know them all. Some are just straight out of medical school and have just started specialising in surgery for their D.E.S (Diplôme d'Etudes Spécialisées). They’ve just finished rigorous exams in medical school and are just embarking on their surgical journey. Coming to CSC, they gain valuable early experience in orthopaedics and reconstructive surgery; they also importantly learn basic principles in surgery which they will keep for the rest of their careers. Some are still uncertain about what they want to do after at the start of their D.E.S whilst others have their keen eyes set on orthopaedics or general surgery. On the other end of the spectrum, there are also trainees nearing the end of their specialty training. I’ve been spending a lot of time with a trainee who’s in his final year of plastic surgery training. He’s been at CSC for just over a month and will be staying for another 4 months. He has just one more placement at another surgical centre in Phnom Penh before he finally finishes his training and reaches his goal of becoming a reconstructive surgeon. He tells me he comes a province right at the border between Cambodia and Thailand, but he’s been in Phnom Penh since his early days of primary school. Observing him perform complex reconstructive procedures in the operating room and patient consultations in the main office, I can’t help but feel impressed by his quiet confidence. His years of training are evident.
They tell me that their training is strenuous and sometimes involve 36-hour duty days at two or three different hospitals; their fees are also steep with each year of D.E.S costing over two thousand US dollars. However, when I ask them whether they have any regrets, they say they have none. They love what they do; it’s evident when they enthusiastically show me pictures of surgeries which they’ve helped with over lunchtime, or when they give me tips on examining patients which they’ve picked up over their time in training.
Whether they’re at the very start of their surgical journey or on the precipice of becoming a consultant surgeon, the trainees all have a role to play at CSC. I feel very grateful to have had a chance to learn a bit about their lives and to have learnt alongside them during my time here.