I’ve been asked many times why I chose the path of surgery. The esoteric, philosophical, mightier-than-thou answer would be “Well, I didn’t choose surgery. Surgery CHOSE me.” Somehow the conversation falls flat after I say things like that. So for practical reasons people can understand, here are some reasons why:
1. No traffic jams. Yes. That’s right. With surgery, your day begins with 6am (or so) ward rounds, and ends sometime between 8pm and midnight, or you may not even make it home. Which means that you get the joy of driving to work when everyone is still asleep or watching Glee on TV. No traffic jams. No honking. No stressed out road rage. No queues at MacDonald’s drive through. Isn’t that great?
2. No public holiday shopping nightmares. As a surgical trainee, you get to kiss all your holidays good bye for the duration of your training. That’s great, cause this way you get to avoid the silly seasons of buying things for yourself, or worse, for others. Now who wants to do that?
3. You get to wear pajamas all day and still get paid. Surgical scrubs are great! There are several good excuses here. Certainly you save a lot of money cause you don’t really need to buy too many shirts, pants, ties or any of those things. Also you save yourself a lot of laundry time. The down side, however, is that you will have to have on at all times a good pair of underwear. It has been noted many times that wardrobe malfunctions do happen with surgical scrubs. An incidental showing of the undergarment occurs not too infrequently around major hospitals, either through a thin scrub material, a slit on the side, a hole on the back, or just because of a poorly tied scrub pants. Depending on the undergarment incidentally revealed, one may end up with a job promotion, or a trip to see the disciplinary board.
4. You get to spend a lot of time with your patient, asleep. It is a myth that surgeons spend little time with patients. They say physicians and internists spend massive amounts of time really talking to patients, while we surgeon “swing by the bed” (like as if we were chimpanzees or something) and not even talk to patients. They say: “don’t blink, or you’ll miss the surgeon”. Well, I’m here to abolish that myth. We clock up more time with our patients compared to physicians. But our patients are anesthetized when we’re with them, for good reasons. Apparently anesthetists put the patients to sleep for the patients’ benefit so they won’t be exposed to the surgeon too much. Hmm…
5. You get to cut people open and stuff. Isn’t that the coolest thing in the world? In any other business it’s called ‘assault’. In my cut-throat industry (pardon the pun), it is called ‘craftsmanship’.
6. You’ll always have an excuse to stop a job, a conversation or an article if you’re getting bored (or can’t find reason number 7).