Saturday, April 04, 2009

surgical principle number 4: enjoy

surgeons are too stuck up. just because you might be saving someone's life and just because blood and guts might be all over the place it doesn't mean you can't take a moment to just enjoy it all. to be honest it might be the one thing that keeps you sane through all the madness.

in our department the prof demanded complete silence during operations. he even used hand signs to ask for instruments so he didn't have to speak. woe to any student who spoke. and if we didn't show due awe at all times he was not impressed. but the problem with spending so much effort working up all that awe all the time was you were often not left with enough energy to just enjoy what was going on. he also had an amazing ability to make students hate their surgery rotations. (how weird is that? it's like hating ice-cream or christmas lunch). i thought another approach would be better.

there is a general shortage of general surgeons in south africa. sure it has a lot to do with the hours and working conditions and all the other well publicised reasons. but it also has to do with a reluctance to go through the old style training. but i don't think all the aspects of the old style training are bad if you want to create surgeons that are worth something in the real world. but at least instill in them an enjoyment in what they do. i mean, let's face it, how cool is it to be a surgeon? we get to cut people open and mess about a bit with their innards. sometimes we might actually make a difference.

so whenever i operated with students one of the things i concentrated on was instilling in them the absolute joy of surgery. i know of three students that decided to study surgery as a direct result of working with me and one student who decided not to quit medicine altogether after having worked with me.

so for all my faithful readers, whenever cutting and dicing, stop and reflect for a moment about how wonderful it is to do what you are doing. don't just enjoy it but instil in those around you more than just a healthy dose of enjoyment.


rlbates said...

I do love working in the OR. :)

Jabulani said...

Enjoyment of your work surely applies across the board, from surgeons all the way down to, oh I don't know, say, lawyers or insurance people? ;)

Jade said...

Surgeons are stuck up? I never would have thought. . .lol!I have 2 say, god complex and all, most of you are excellent teachers and can be very inspiring. . .and fun.

horsetech said...

The first time I watched a colic surgery on a horse -- large pelvic flexure impaction with subsequent gas distention of the small intestine and cecum -- I was mesmerized by the beauty of it all. I had seen several necropsies and knew the general appearance of the viscera, but it does not compare to the living, dynamic structures of a living being. I remember the surgeon holding up part of the small intestine at one point and seeing the gossamer sheet of mesentery draping between her hands, strong veins coursing through an impossibly thin, fragile, vital membrane. It shone like a spider web glistening with morning dew.

I am but a lowly maggot making my way towards vet school. It is early and I do not know whether I will end up in medicine or surgery, but I hope to never forget or take for granted the beauty of surgery.

Karen Little said...

I remember despising the surgical rotation as a student - and it wasn't because of the surgery. I just remember spending all my time worrying about whether or not I was wearing the right kind of clothes, trying to remember which side of the bed I was supposed to stand on while presenting, and being terrified that Prof was going to lose it because I'd left something out in my examination or had committed some mortal error whilst in theatre. I never thought it would be the discipline I'd end up enjoying the most.
the way they teach it back there can really ruin it.

Tim said...

That roller coaster sure looks like a experiance lol