Hi everyone! Just got back from shadowing Dr. Nwynn in outpatient surgery. Today I observed two surgeries, both mid-urethral slings, which treat incontinence (leakage of urine with everyday activities, like coughing, sneezing, or laughing). The procedure itself is still a little confusing to me, but from what I understand, a sling made of surgical mesh is inserted around the urethra (pee-pee hole) to keep it from drooping during physical activity, which causes the leakage of urine. Dr. Nwynn said this particular procedure is a little tricky because it’s completely blind- he must depend solely on touch to navigate around the internal organs.
As the patient was being prepped, Dr. Nwynn said that surgery is a sort of dance. There are so many different steps that must be followed in sequential order. Either the circulator or surgeon must present the patient, the case, and possible allergies. Patient is positioned- legs placed in $5000 stirrups; arms extended in a T-position; towels covering all exposed skin aside from area of incision. Scrub nurse does a count of surgical tools. Circulator confirms. Spotlights are turned on. Anesthesiologist injects the gas into the patient’s bloodstream, asks the patient questions. When patient is no longer responsive, anesthesiologist gives the cue to the surgeon to begin. Clock starts. Everything must be done precisely in that order.
During the few hours I spent at the hospital, I talked a lot with the anesthesiologist, whom the doctors call Chopra. A wise Indian man in his 60s or early 70s, Chopra bombarded my brain with great insight into both the world of medicine and how one can become successful in life. Chopra shared with me activities he believes everyone should integrate into their lives (not necessarily in order of importance) to reach his/her full potential:
- Read biographies. Gaining insight into how people endured and emerged successful serves as a tool for us to reach our maximum potentials. Chopra suggested I read Marie Curie, the woman scientist who discovered radium, and Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb.
- Set aside time for yourself to meditate and think about yourself, your values, your goals. Get in touch with your inner soul. You must know yourself better than anyone else does.
- Make music. Whether it’s piano, violin, or singing, set aside time each day to play. According to Chopra, studies have shown that people who play music on a daily basis are intellectually more enriched and well-versed than those who do not. Apparently, musicians make better doctors.
- LISTEN. Engage in intellectual discussions, but don’t dominate the conversation. When you talk, you don’t listen, and thus, you are not learning. Learning stems from listening. So listen to those around you, take advantage of the resources you have at your fingertips. Listen to TED talks. Join Toastmasters, where you will hear intellectually stimulated people share knowledge and insight.
Regarding medicine, Chopra explained how in this technological age, robots are swiftly replacing doctors. Think about it- robots can be programmed to diagnose and treat patients. They are MUCH cheaper than highly trained professionals. In fact, it is very likely that fields like internal medicine will be replaced by robots in the near future. Both Chopra and Dr. Nwynn told me that if I wanted to go into medicine, go into a field that requires HANDS, like surgery. Anesthesiology is also a very competitive field nowadays- good money, hard to replace, and LOTS of responsibility.
Inside the OR, Chopra was telling me to think outside the box, to work for the greater good. “This right here,” Chopra said, waving his arm at Dr. Nwynn and the scrub nurse and the patient, “this right here is inside the box. Anyone can do this, all they need is to be trained.” Chopra then pointed to the plastic clip attached to the patient’s finger, called a finger pulse oximeter, that measures how much oxygen one is getting. “This, however- the inventor of this device was thinking outside the box. Can you believe it, a little piece of plastic you attach to your finger that measures amount of oxygen in your blood?”
Personally, I still think being a physician of any sort is one of the most rewarding things a person can be. Doing service to the people, changing lives, saving lives. But Chopra is also right- working for the greater good, making ground-breaking inventions, is just as, if not more, rewarding.
Okay, I must get back to studying now! I hope you guys found Chopra’s words of advice just as great as I did. What an amazing, inspiring man. And at the end of the day, dressed in plain blue jeans, a black t-shirt, and a white cap, he is only human. Just like you and me.