Truong Do, a 2013 graduate in biology, on the University of Minnesota Campus
Title: Neurological Surgery Resident
What does your day-to-day work look like?
At present, I’m on night float, which means I’m on call from 6 p.m. to about 8 a.m. This occurs every three months during the second year of residency. Being on call consists of managing patients during their post-operative period and evaluating new patients that arrive in the Emergency Room.
When not on nights, I’m either on day call or in the operating room. Day call is similar to night call but has the additional component of being a logistics manager for patients who require surgery. For the time when I’m in the operating room, I have the privilege of learning how to perform surgery, with assistance from the staff surgeons and more senior residents.
What kind of surgeries do you tend to work on?
We do any operations where the nervous system is involved. This means we are able to operate on conditions involving the brain, spine, and nerves of the arms and legs. Our anatomic variety is matched by the disease pathology and includes operating on tumors, traumatic injuries, abnormal veins and arteries, and abscesses from infections.
Why did you decide to go into neurosurgery?
During my senior year of college, my mom had a hemorrhagic stroke, which is a bleed in the head. She had surgeons that removed the blood clot in her head to relieve pressure on her normal brain tissue. Seeing the process of her having surgery, rehabilitating for six weeks, and how her surgeons have facilitated a continued quality of life for her is what drew me to this specialty.
What about your undergraduate experience at the College of Biological Sciences was helpful to you in your career?
I think the Foundations courses stand out now as a physician given the reality of practicing medicine which is in a big group. As much as television stereotypes doctors as individuals that influence patient outcomes, there are a lot of nurses, technicians, social workers, and others who enable patient care. Knowing how to work with people is important to providing optimal care. Likewise, CBS’ focus on performing basic science research continues to help me to understand technical literature and understand the limitations of the lab and imaging results we obtain. Believe it or not, western blots and PCR are used in a clinical setting!
What advice do you have for students going into medicine?
It’s a demanding career, so knowing what you’re getting into -- that you’re not just going into four years of medical school but also an additional three to seven years of residency after that -- is important. It’s important to shadow doctors in all their environments: during residency and after residency; in the clinic, the lab, and in the hospital; and also how this impacts their family life and overall ability to pursue hobbies. I encourage everyone to consider medicine, but being honest about what you need to be happy is likewise important.