A Few New Things

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I’ve had some wonderful projects come to light this week, and despite the obvious shameless self-promotion, I’m gonna write a bit about each of them here. This isn’t a list for bragging, and is far from a simple CV addition, but I’d like to talk a little about each, including some of the struggles, joys, and thoughts that led to them.

My employer has a wonderful marketing group, and they developed a great program called “Discoveries for a Better Tomorrow” (or #TomorrowsDiscoveries) that gives faculty the opportunity to talk about their research or other interests in a slick, well-produced short promo. I was invited to make one not long after moving to Baltimore, though I’ll admit I was reluctant as outcomes research and big data don’t tend to translate to a sexy, patient-centered, blood-and-guts video that might actually be interesting to patients or to other healthcare professionals. The team was fantastic, however, and produced a product that allowed me to talk about why I work on the things I do instead of (only) showing me mining through spreadsheets. I’m not thrilled that it’s (necessarily) short on specifics, but let’s be honest: most of the specifics aren’t that interesting. I’m proud of the final product, and I’m proud to do the work I do. (And yes, you can of course see TweetDeck in the background even when I’m “working”.)

My raving about the wonder named Amalia Cochran knows few bounds, so I quickly jumped at the chance to work on an outstanding new book edited by her and Ruth Braga, Introduction to the Operating Room. Awesome fellow #SurgTweeting aficionado (and good friend) Drew Shirley and I came up with an, um, “unconventional” chapter called “Notes from Your Attending” that alternately includes over-the-top admonitions (many of which we actually heard our first times in the OR) and gentle instruction on what faculty surgeons expect of medical students and residents during surgery. To be honest, I wasn’t sure it would really fit in with the rest the book—but when I found the contents also included Luke Selby‘s “Tomfoolery, Shenanigans, and Hazing in Surgery” and superstar Tom Varghese‘s “The Myth of the Kind Surgeon”, I realized we’d made a great choice. (Incidentally, I’m certain this is also the fastest either Drew or I has written just about anything of substance; I won’t say exactly how quickly we got through with this book chapter, but it was amazing.) Just to be entirely clear: I’d work with any of this team on any project, any time I had the chance. If you get the opportunity, you should, too.

Finally, as a member of the Association for Academic Surgery‘s Committee on Technology and Communications, I get the opportunity to occasionally submit a post to the Association’s blog. My previous one was well-received, but I wasn’t sure (indeed, I’m still not sure) my latest would be. I’ve worked with “disruptive” surgeons (to use the polite euphemism), and I’ve worked with some who were quite nice but also, well, sticks in the mud. Choosing to talk about the “do it the same way every time” mantra isn’t without concern, but I hope that as academic surgeons we’re learning to adapt, to learn different methods, and to allow variation for both experience and education. This particular topic let me briefly address 3 of my most precious concerns: surgical dogma, surgical disruptiveness, and surgical autonomy. As I said before, I fully expect to get some disagreement (and treasure that as well!), but hope I’ve made my point coherently.

These are the projects that have amazingly all come to fruition right at the same time, and I’m proud of them. I’m most proud, however, to have been able to complete most of this work before my second daughter was born 8 weeks ago, so that I’ve been able to give some more time to my wonderful family, especially my amazing spousal equivalent (SE). I’ve got pictures of them along with my mission statement above my desk to remind me why I do all of this while I’m at work, but that’s a far cry from actually being there.

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