For me personally it is very hard to watch scenes from movies/documentaries where the surgeon cuts patient's skin.

I don't get any discomfort from seeing blood or wounds but it's almost unbearable to watch as the doctor slowly cuts patient's skin with a scalpel (much less so if it's a quick motion).

Punctures (injections) are not that bad but still uncomfortable (weirdly, i did not feel any discomfort from watching the doctor take vein blood sample from my own arm).

I suppose there might be people who despite having similar discomfort might want to overcome it and become doctors. Do they have some training in medical school that helps them get used to these things? Or such people are simply seen an unfit for being a surgeon like if they for example had tremor?

1 Answer 1


Having a psychological reaction to exposure to blood, injections, incisions, dissection, or similar stimuli is common - even among those training in medical fields. Symptoms from nausea to dizziness up to vasovagal syncope or panic attacks happen to some people, but it is rarely a hard barrier to progressing in the medical field - unless it is not addressed responsibly. Even those fairly severe responses almost always can diminish or extinguish over time through simple repetition ("habituation") and/or psychotherapy. The important thing is to be aware of your triggers and responses, be in tune with your symptoms, and ask to step away or for help the moment you realize there may be an issue. The culture of medicine is not always kind, and there still exist some who might tease someone for stepping aside. But far worse would be faceplanting into the surgical field, or the OR floor and acquiring a TBI, just because you were too embarrassed to excuse yourself when you felt symptomatic. I've heard such stories, and have seen surgeons tell students to let someone know immediately if they start to feel woozy so they can hand over their role. It's not just you, it's the team and the patient at risk if you aren't responsible enough to ask for help.

  • thanks for a detailed explanation. i did notice it got a bit better after i forced myself to watch some of these uncomfortable scenes (i'm not going to become a doctor, just don't like knowing that my brain acts on it's own and not in a good way)
    – Gaka
    May 5, 2018 at 8:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.