And now you get to see inside the cogs that make my mind go around...
I've started a new blog with a new goal completely. It's called The Surgeon Innovator. It's dedicated to the idea that all surgeons are innovators and our brilliant ideas should be shared and celebrated. Think of it as the TED conference of surgical innovation, but without the fancy microphones, elegant speakers and heart-warming anecdotes. Ok, maybe its not like TED. It's my thoughts that will hopefully stimulate your thoughts, and maybe, somehow, all those thoughts will smush up against in each and be awesome.
Check it out! You seem like someone with a lot of great ideas. We're going to be good friends. I can tell. Also, I'd LOVE LOVE LOVE any guest posts. Email me if you've got stuff to say.
a woman in surgery, gender issues come up frequently. It’s something that really weighs on my mind,
and I want to take this opportunity to set the record straight. Gender equality matters, and we all need to
do our part to the even the playing field in surgical specialties.
fields of sewing and knot tying have historically dominated by women. For thousands of years, everything that was
sewn by a human, was sewn by a women. In
the modern era, woman are taught from a very young age to handle
needles and thread, and go through rigorous afternoon craft sessions where our
work is critiqued and judged until it reaches a level of precision suitable for
a surgeon, or at least enough to hold our handmade pillow case together. When we wanted to cement our social standing
with our best friend, we were forced to undertake a tedious and tiresome knot
tying ritual known as “making friendship bracelets”. The
intricacy and precision of the bracelet was believed to be reflective of the
commitment to the friendship, forcing BFF’s to engage in a never ending
competition to out-tie and out-braid their brightly colored mess of threads
into a work of art.
hands would ache, our eyes would water, and all we could think was “one more knot, just one more knot….” Looking back at my Girl Scout experience, it
really could be renamed “Surgical Technique 101”. Except there would be less cookies.
our natural and obvious dominance of the skills required for surgery, women
must actively work to welcome men into the field of surgery. This revolutionary and controversial
viewpoint is not embraced yet by the mainstream surgical audience, so allow me
to make my case. I truly believe that
there is a role for Men in Surgery, and that, over time, we will come to find
them a truly valuable part of the surgical community.
their obvious deficit in sewing and knot tying based on childhood experiences,
men can in fact develop these skills if given proper time and training. A patient teacher and an abundance of
motivation must be present in order for these men to make up on lost time, but
it is possible. There’s a growing body
of evidence that video gaming at a young age improves laparoscopic skills. So we should remind them that their wasted
youth, devoid of knot-tying, may still have some usefulness.
obstacle that men must overcome is their natural urges and biologic
shortcomings which often distract them from surgery. Their frequent requests to time off to attend
major sporting events, improve their golf game, or simply to fart and scratch
their balls at home, must be met with tolerance and understanding. The biologic differences between women and
men cannot be changed, but we must work to adjust our expectations and work
schedules to account for these inconvenient and unexpected interruptions to the
operating room can be a hostile place for men in surgery, and as women we must
actively work to reform this. Both
circulating and scrub nurses are almost uniformly female, and careers in
anesthesia (including CRNA’s) is rapidly trending toward a female
predominance. Many scholars have
postulated that men are simply no longer a relevant part of the operating room
culture. The sisterhood that has
developed often alienates men. They are kept out of the social circle by their
lack of understanding of our reality TV show and Glee references. Metaphors related to the contestants on the
Bachelor often go over their head and
they find themselves lacking a common
language as their female peers. As women
in surgery, we must actively reach out to these men. Take time away from the operating room to
review common metaphors which they may overhear. Answer their questions about Grey’s Anatomy
in a honest and respectful way. It’s not
their fault that they cannot participate in the female-dominated operating room
culture- they were simply raised differently.
must come from the leadership in our field.
There is no room for gender bias in the hiring process. Science has
proven repeatedly that women tend to be more detail oriented, more patient, and
better at resolving complex emotional and relationship issues- all of which are
highly valued in chosing which surgeon to hire for an open position. But I urge my colleagues to consider some of
the lesser known traits of men which may in fact be just as valuable. For example, I bet you didn’t know that men
can lift very heavy things. Additionally,
men tend to have larger hands. While
this makes them struggle in many of the fine and delicate aspects of surgery,
it could be seen as a positive when considering stool disimpaction. Lastly, remember that men have feelings
too. They just might surprise you with
their compassion and grace. Oh yeah! And
they are tall. Think of all those dead
light bulbs they could change.
men to become surgeons enhances the diversity of our work force, which I’ve
been told is a good thing. If we hope to
remain a vital and relevant field amongst medical specialties, we must embrace
all gender equally- even the ones with external genitaila. Gross.
My sister did a cute blog post about "A Day In The Life", which mostly involves my adorable nephews, and I highly recommend reading it (LINK!) I decided to do one of my own, so here goes: A Day in the Life of a Second Year General Surgery Resident.
This is what time my car says when I get up in the morning. OK, I lied. That's what time I left work. But 5am feels like 3:45am.
This is the parking garage at my work. I would be lying if I didn't say that free parking in downtown Chicago is one of the reasons that I picked my program. I would also be lying if I didn't say that I lose my car in this garage about once a week. I've been told by multiple sources that we have the largest parking garage in all of Chicago. But really? O'Hare? McCorkmick place? I think it's a lie made up by people who lose their cars in here often and are trying to feel better about it.
This is part of the hospital complex. The newest, shiniest part. Does it just make you want to cut someone open? Mmm. I love it. Also, this is why your medical bills are so high.
This is the locker room where I change into scrubs. You really weren't expecting this detailed of a look int my life, were you? It's thrilling, right?
There is only one important thing about my locker: it's where I keep food. Yum yum yum. I guess the combination is also important, but not a important as the food.
This is pre-op, where we meet the patient before surgery. I basically live where that other guy is standing. Why do I love standing beside that window so much? Well...
Skyline view!!! I'm obsessed with this view. I take a picture of it at least once a week.
Don't believe me how much I love this view? Would you like to see it on a cloudy summer day?
Or a sunny summer day?
Or a kinda foggy morning? You name the condition, and I've got a picture of this skyline in it. But moving on...
So we wait in pre-op for everybody to be ready to start surgery. Here's my attending waiting. Don't be mistaken, this isn't a scene from the action-packed Gray's Anatomy, this actually happened in front of me. THRILLING.
Finally we get to wheel the patient down the long hallway with the pretty view to the OR. The patients are given drugs before we roll back, so they either sleep through the scenic view, or they think it is super awesome and trippy (depending which drug we give them)
Then anesthesia puts the patient to sleep in the operating room. Two things I would like to point out about this picture. (1) This was for a small breast biopsy that took about 30 minutes, and anesthesia has enough IV fluid hanging to do a freaking liver transplant. Chill out anesthesia. (2) Did you notice the artfully placed wires and lines that make it so you can't see the patient's face? HIPPA compliant and artistically pleasing.
The OR's have an awesome BOSE sound system, that unfortunately only plays Apple products, not Droid. So I had to find my old 80gb, 3 lbs iPod to bring to work to play music. My old iPod is as big as my current laptop. Or close. And it has zero music from the past 5 years on it. O well.
And then we do surgery. Love love love.
I made sure to include the instruments in this picture that look most like torture devices. Mwahaha.
I always have the exact same snack after surgery- cranberry juice and graham crackers. I steal it from the food cart meant for patients who have finished surgery. The taste of cran-crackers (patent pending) is my favorite thing after finishing a long surgery. It's probably disgusting, but it means I get to sit down after a long case, so I love it.
I also drink a lot of Diet Coke, which was the initial purpose of this picture. I only noticed after I took it, that there is a jug behind it labeles "24 Urine Collection". I hope that jug was empty.
I sleep at work every chance I get. You can send my Doctor of the Year award via fax, email or snail mail. If everything I have to do is done, I'm no stranger to a midday nap and I'm not a shamed of it. There are a few keypoints I must teach you, though, if you hope to successfully take a nap at work. Lines on your face or drool are for amateurs To successfully sleep at work you have to look like you are doing something. So I kick my feet up and put something that I could be reading on my nap. Extra points if its something that I should be reading (aka a medical journal). You have to lean straight back, no resting your cheek to one side or the other, or you will wake up with lines. And then...
.... you can just close your eyes and sleep. If someone walks in, it's a simple as opening your eyes and you look like you are wide awake and busy studying. Some newbies lay down on couches to sleep, but that is super awkward if your boss walks in. You have to sit up fast, wipe away drool, and try not too look like a slacker. But my way is magic. Eyes close, night night. Eyes open, study study. I won't tell you my record for longest nap in this position, but I will tell you that its legendary.
So there you have it. A day in my life. I love it.
I wrote a novel. I love it. It's emotional, it's vibrant, it's raw and it's real. It's all the stories that I wish I could put on my blog about my work in the burn unit, but I can't do that. So I changed everyone's names, changed their stories a little, added a few dragons and now I get to call it fiction. It's the story of a Burn ICU. A group of patients, all severely burned and all comatose, embarks on a grand adventure together in a fantasy world. They fight for their lives. They fall in love. They learn the truth about who they are, and they must decide what it means to hope and to love. As an aside to anyone who read my first novel attempt- this is much better. I took writing classes. I read books about how to write a good novel. I had professional writers read it and give me feedback. I talked to people who know stuff about publishing. I spellchecked it.
So if you love good stories and compelling characters, then you should read this. And tell your friends. -Buy it for you Kindle for $3.99 -Buy it for your hands for $9.99 -Get it for free if you are an Amazon Prime Member (I get paid whether you buy it or borrow it, so go crazy and borrow it for free and save your $3.99 for that latte you will sip while reading it)
I'm writing another novel. And it's good. Like really good. But enough about that. One of my characters is based on a patient who I have kind of met. Four months ago, when I was on SICU, I would cover the Burn ICU at night. I spent many hours at her bedside, placing lines, adjust medications, drawing labs, changing dressings- but she was basically in a coma, so I met her but she never met me. Anyway, I've taken her and developed an entire imaginary life and personality and made her a character in my novel. Now I am on Burn Surgery and she came to clinic today. Let me tell you- it was AWKWARD. I walked into the room and saw her name and immediately felt like I was meeting a celebrity or something. She probably thinks I'm a total freak. But I kind of wanted to get to know her and be her BFF, mostly because I'm curious if I got ANY of her life or personality right. The verdict? She is much more stylish, funnier and nicer than my character. I guess that's better than if she ended up being a jerk. Anyway, now I feel like I need to make my character better, to live up to her. Meeting one of my characters in clinic.... craziness. Also- here are 2 AWESOME quote about writing I like: "Although physicians are not deities, novelists are." "The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense."
I'm a surgeon, passionate about innovating and advancing the field of surgery. I've started this blog to share my own ideas and to develop a community of medical professionals, engineers and any other thinkers who want to make surgery safer, better and cheaper. All surgeons are innovators- we just needed a place to tell our stories.