As many of you know, “rough” has not been an adequate enough of an adjective to describe the past week for my hospital and my community. We have lost people who mean a great deal to all of us.
So, you can imagine my abject disgust when I heard about, and then read, this post from Kevin MD – “5 tips for parenting a future surgeon”. Feel free to read it, or I will be glad to summarize it here. This was written by an anonymous mother of a surgeon who states, “Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be surgeons” and then proceeds to list all the horrors of allowing or encouraging your child to become a surgeon. Let me list them for you here.
Surgeons yell a lot. Surgeons curse. Surgeons don’t give out praise. Surgeons don’t get enough sleep at night. AND because medical school costs money.
Anonymous mother – you should be downright ashamed of yourself. And let me clearly, and as plainly as possible, tell you why.
Doctors, and surgeons in particular are a national shortage. Sure, the world existed before surgeons, and the world would exist without surgeons. But, I don’t think I’m out on a limb here by saying that we save and improve lives daily. For example, think of the over quarter of a million people every year who need to have their appendix taken out. Most people think of appendicitis as a fairly benign or mild disease. However, without a surgeon, and even with antibiotics, a significant proportion of those patients would suffer and potentially die. This doesn’t even begin to address the other whole host of diseases that we treat and even help cure – breast cancer, colon cancer, gallbladder problems, heart disease, bowel obstructions, and traumatic injuries. Fact of the matter is, without surgeons, life expectancy would quickly and expediently drop. But hey, feel free to go around encouraging people not to go into a profession in which the only goal is to help other people.
Yep, medical school costs money. And yes, the vast majority of us need loans to pay for the education. But last time I checked, universities, and community colleges, and trade schools also cost money. And a lot of people also need loans to pay. Should no one pursue any sort of education that costs money unless they can pay for it in cash? That seems just slightly elitist from my perspective.
Hmm – okay. Well let’s keep going. So, should no mother allow their child to join the military? I have a hard time believing that someone could make it through any sort of military training much less SEAL or Ranger training without getting yelled at… or cursed at… or sleep deprived for periods of time.
And lady, you want to know why?! Because what they do, and what we do, is serious. And some might even say stressful. Like, you know, life or death kind of stressful. Handing out trophies is NOT going to prepare someone for those types of situations.
I am not excusing abusive behavior. What I would like to ask is what kind of training do you want your surgeon to have? Being told they are right when they are wrong? Not learning to perform under some semblance of pressure? Because let me tell you how that will end up – with you on an operating room table and an incredibly unprepared surgeon looking down at you. Good luck with you on that… let me know how it turns out for you.
Just for the record, my parents are kinda proud of me. They think the fact that there are people living today, waking up and going to work, kissing their loved ones goodbye because of me, is pretty cool. But hey, if you think your child not getting yelled at is more important than that… well, I have heard it “takes all kinds”.
My real advice to you? Go find a surgeon, and hug them. Because they chose to go through years and years of rigorous training all to help you. And although there may not be a real trophy at the end, keeping people alive seems to be reward enough for most of us.
I can understand your concern in terms of needing more surgeons. We need more PCP’s so I get your drift (and peds & endos). That being said, how about channeling the energy into putting something together so that the parent understands the benefits and appreciates their kids’ sacrifice and love for the profession? The kid didn’t get raised to be dumb (obviously), has a strong work ethic (and back and leg muscles), and obviously cares enough to go into a field a lot of people don’t have the stomach (ha ha) for. Part of that comes from a parent who raises their kids with morals and values and hard work. The parent should understand that they are being honored in what the kid is doing. Their child is doing something they love that benefits others, maybe even truly saves lives on a weekly or daily basis. They’ll need support, not the rug pulled out from under them.
It takes communication.
That being said, I have yet to see any surgeons’ group talk about the benefits of yoga or stretches and taking care of nutrition for surgeons. When I’ve done some food, the surgeons passed up the meat (protein) and veggie sandwiches for goodies. They needed to have the focus on nutrition to take care of themselves. The less you take care of yourself, the worst care you give to others. This is a stressful job, you have to be able to bear up and sometimes take some help for your colleagues, and the more you break down and become a burden, the more it puts on some one else.