Updates on last week’s shadowing: I was lucky enough to see an extracranial-intracranial bypass surgery. It was the last surgery on an already packed schedule. Dr. Mitchell performed the craniotomy whereby holes are made in the skull and bone flaps are opened. Dr. Hanel isolated the blood vessels, clamped the ends, and sliced them open before suturing the donor to the recipient vessel. Then he removed the clamps to allow blood to flow. They used infrared to check for any leaks in the vessel. Dr. Mitchell took care of closing the craniotomy. The video from the microscope was projected onto a 3D TV which two of the nurses, Nancy and Bobo, set up for me. I watched the entire surgery with 3D glasses in super HD. Incredible.

One morning, the team had already prepped the patient before Dr. Hanel had the time to speak with the patient’s family. He reminded his team that he always wants to speak with the patient’s family before the patient is prepped. When he went to speak with the patient’s family after the angiogram + coiling, he apologized for not meeting with them before the surgery. After, he told me, “I’ve been practicing in this country for 15 years and have never had a lawsuit.” He attributed this to establishing relationships and building trust. He didn’t say this next part, but I’ll say it here…also he’s a great surgeon.

I’m currently reading Chris Hadfield’s An Astronaut’s Guide to Living on Earth. One passage I liked is:

The upshot of all this is that we become competent, which is the most important quality to have if you’re an astronaut–or, frankly, anyone, anywhere, who is striving to succeed at anything at all. Competence means keeping your head in a crisis, sticking with a task even when it seems hopeless, and improvising good solutions to tough problems when every second counts. It encompasses ingenuity, determination and being prepared for anything. (36)

Being able to do your job and do it well is important for not just you, but your entire team. For any endeavor: love it and do it well. Words to live by.


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