Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Humanizing the Profession: Patient perceptions of #ILookLikeASurgeon

by Terri Coutee @6state
Trends on Twitter and much of Social Media go at break neck speeds. Here today and gone tomorrow. There has been something trending on Twitter the past few days that inspired me to write this post. The trend followed the hash tag #ILookLikeASurgeon started by a resident in surgery, Heather Logghe, MD.  And yes, it exploded on Social Media!  Dr. Kathy Hughes, a surgeon and one of my favorite bloggers, even started a Facebook page to honor this community.  The movement was further inspired an article written about diversity and equality from a London surgeon, Dr. Ed FitzgeraldI was mesmerized and actually found two surgeons I follow on Twitter who posted these two pictures.



I know Dr. Chrysopoulo personally and many of you who read my blog probably feel like you do, too, as I’m forever singing his praises. I had an excellent experience having him as my DIEP flap breast reconstruction surgeon. Dr. Karen Horton and I have chatted through Face book and Twitter and I have listened to a webinar she presented for Living Beyond Breast Cancer. She, too, is a well-respected microsurgeon who performs breast reconstruction surgery for cancer patients. She, like Dr. Chrysopoulo is one of the featured surgeons on my closed Face Book group offering extra time and consideration to questions posed by patients regarding topics on breast reconstruction. I looked for the other guest surgeons on my Face Book group to see if they had posted on #Ilooklikeasurgeon but have not found them yet. But, I do see their interest on Face book about their own family, fun, exercise, grilling, cooking, and what they do outside the operating room or theater as it is sometimes called.

Humanizing the Profession

Quite simply stated, this Twitter trend has humanized a profession that at times, is held to a standard that is difficult for even the humblest of individuals to live up to. What this trend shows are surgeons from a variety of practices from across the globe; women, men, single, married, with children, with their colleagues and yes, building human pyramids in the pool with their children or on the way home from a day in surgery. These surgeons go home at night like the rest of us and eat dinner, toss and turn in bed wondering about the complexities of life, brush their teeth, laugh, cry, wipe a child’s tear, hug a friend in need, run, weight lift, play the violin…. YES! They are human like the rest of us.  YES! They are diverse. They have a life outside of their scrubs.
I have a suspicion, unfounded and non-evidence based though it might be, and I will own it. My suspicion is this; the surgeons who have posted on this Twitter trend have high ratings with their patients. These are the surgeons who respect you as a team member in your health decisions, sometimes tagged as #SDM (shared decision making) on Twitter. These are surgeons who go the extra distance not only as team members with their colleagues but spend the extra time it takes to research evidence based medicine (#EBM) to hone their practice and skill achieving the best in patient outcomes.
So humanize your surgeon. Respect begets respect. Let down your fear of their vast amount of knowledge, years of training, and skill. Know that these women and men chose this profession because they recognized a passion, a skill in wanting to help you. There is a person behind every mask!

Terri Coutee is a breast cancer survivor and patient advocate for all choice of breast reconstruction. This post is cross-posted at Terri's blog: DiepC Journey: Reconstructing a purposeful life

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