Sunday, November 1, 2015

#ILookLikeASurgeon: Creating an "Upward Spiral of Happiness"


by Paula Ferrada, MD, FACS



While reading an article about finding happiness, I found one reason to always smile: Gratitude! Finding things to be grateful for, stimulates your brain in a way that act almost as a natural antidepressant.  For all foreign graduates reading; you know how hard it is to become a surgeon in the United States and the things we did and still do to become one… so regardless of the situation I am on, I always take time to remind myself: I fought for this position because I wanted with passion to become a surgeon- and I won! This was my choice!  And immediately things are better (or at least better in my brain which is the beginning for improvement in other places).

#ILookLikeASurgeon VCU Department of Surgery thank you all! ‪#‎diversitymatters‬

So I made a list of amazing things our profession offers, things that I am grateful for while being a surgeon.

  1. Immediate Gratification: I am a trauma surgeon. Immediate gratification for us is evident- I don’t need mountain biking or bungee jumping to have an adrenaline rush… There is not highest high that saving someone’s life! And this feeling,  is totally irrespective of what anyone else thinks or say- even if no one pats you in the back. There is no better satisfaction than walking out of a room and knowing you did it!

  1. Wonderful Patients: The satisfaction to see patients that are grateful, and more importantly that recognize that they are a pivotal part of the team; patients that want to get better, that participate and are engaged in their healthcare. This is for me, especially true after I see them recover from a life threatening event. When after being in the ICU for months they come to clinic with their families, and back to their normal life! I feel privileged to be part of their recovery.  

  1. Team building and leaderships skills on the go: I truly believe surgeons since early in our training are placed in situations where leadership skills have no other choice but to develop- sure; it would be amazing if we all had formal training, and I am not saying all surgical training programs will prepare you to be a Chairman or CEO; BUT; you will learn to prioritize, to triage information and clinical urgency, to manage a team, to deliver information to patients and colleagues effectively. For all residents: You know all those extra hours preparing morbidity and mortality conference? They will serve you well as public speaking training; time management and control of your audience. Seize these opportunities!

  1. Job security: Surgery in one of the specialties that thus far is irreplaceable. The best cure for cancer in most cases is a complete resection, the best way to stop life threatening bleeding is in most cases,  in the operating room; the only way to control sepsis from bowel necrosis is resection; and I can go on and on with examples. We are blessed to be in a field in which we are needed! And likely for many years to come!

We have so many reasons to stay strong! If we are proud of who we are and what we do- If we maintain a sense of belonging, and camaraderie, we have more chances in moving the walls that prevent us from reaching higher; we have better chances at making this profession even more rewarding and change the things that discourage many talented professionals from staying in it.

These are the reasons I’m grateful to be a surgeon--what are yours?

~Paula Ferrada, MD, FACS

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