Just a few more days to go before Christmas. So to those who are reading my blog, Merry Christmas to you, all! To those who are not reading this, please greet them for me, too. And just in case the doomsayers are correct in predicting the end of the world tomorrow, I might as well greet you Happy New Year too! Kaboom!
Christmas time for me is really an anticipated season. Besides the partying left and right, my birthday also falls a few days after Christmas Day. Wow, I can’t believe I’ll be turning 38 years old by then. My older relatives used to call me, “Doctor or Doc Raldy, the young doctor”. Slowly, the word “young” is being dropped and am now just plainly called “Doc Raldy”. When I was a kid as young as my daughter Raya (She is 7 years old), I used to think that people near or in their 40s are “Jurrasic”. So that means I will be a mere 2 years away from being “Jurassic”! (If you don’t know the meaning of the word Jurassic, you’re not my age.)
Anyway, for this blog post, I decided to put some reminders that I would like to share to my fellow surgeons. I did not learn this in medical school, nor during my residency training. I haven’t read this in any medical textbook. I have come to realize these things only after 4 years of being in private practice.
1. Start each surgery with a prayer, and an empty bladder.
For the first part of the sentence, people may be shocked. Me? Say a prayer? Well, believe it or not, I do, silently in the locker room, where only God can see me. I realize that my most potent weapon as a surgeon is not the scalpel, but God guiding my hands. In private practice, you are on your own. No consultants to defend you. No training institution to say you are still a “trainee”. Humble yourself and realize that God is the Greatest Surgeon Mentor. For the second part of the sentence, this is self-explanatory. It is not good “dancing around” Gangnam style while the surgery is on-going.
2. We should not discourage our patients from seeking second opinion. It is their right, and it is our responsibility to give them choices, with the risks and benefits of each choice explained in terms they can clearly understand.
I have mentioned this before. I still believe it’s true. The decision whether to undergo surgery or not, is not for us surgeons to make, unless it is a life and death situation. When patients and their families fully understand the risks and benefits, they will make better judgement, and will love us surgeons, whether the outcome was good or bad.
3. When doing your rounds of patients, always greet them and the family first, before discussing the case. And talk to them as if we have all the time in the world, even if we obviously don’t. They will appreciate that. And in fact, they will be the first one to say “Doc, baka may gagawin pa kayo. Nakakahiya naman tagal nyo na sa amin.” End the conversation with a firm handshake if they have no more questions.
4. If you are not comfortable doing a surgery on your own, you can always “Call a friend”. Even though we are “competitors” in terms of patients, most of us fellow suregons are willing to help each other out during surgeries. Only very few are arrogant enough not to share their expertise. And these people don’t deserve to be our colleagues.
5. Everyday in my private practice, there is something new to learn.
The day you stop learning is the day you will die. Medicine is a very dynamic field, especially orthopedic surgery. We learn not only from our more senior consultants, but also from our more junior consultants, and most especially, from our patients. Patients teach us that we are only humans. We sometimes cure, oftentimes heal, but can always comfort. And whether we like it or not, we also have to learn the business and politics side of medicine, too (unfortunately).
I still have a lot of things in my mind that I have learned through practicing medicine, orthopedic surgery in particular. But I can’t put the right words for now. In the meantime, until, the next blog post, I want to greet everybody again a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous 2013!
How about you, my dear colleagues in medicine, do you have any reminders you can share us that you have learned during private practice?