I travel the World a lot for seeing the masters of their discipline. And there are many things in common to all of them. They all have passion, focus and open- mindedness!
Superficially, it may seem that these characteristics have nothing to do with surgical skills that I write about, but it’s actually these attributes that translates into a master.
In my last trips to the USA, I had the privilege to meet Dr. Yuri Novitsky, Dr. Igor Belyansky, Dr. Phil Schafer and Dr. Parks, all surgeons who have made their names in field of hernias, bariatric and reflux disease. It is their work that has shown new and future directions in these disciplines.
What is striking about these masters are that they are not afraid to think freely in the interests of the patients. They executed their innovative strategy with good intention, recorded their results and shared it with their colleagues with an open mind to accept criticism.
So, what can we learn from them that can improve patient care?
First, the approach is to improve regularly and not to stay in the comfort zone. This can be achieved by reading, thinking, retraining and self-reassessing frequently. Secondly, keeping a mentor and asking for help is an important strategy to improve. The Masters have mastered this trait. Asking for help, keeping ego aside, will translate into pursuing excellence ultimately. Finally, the conservatives and the society at large is always resistant to change in the beginning. The proponents of change are always looked as disrupters and challengers rather than free thinkers. It is probably common to all disciplines and from times immemorial. However, the passion of these masters seem to be undeterred, in speaking what they think is right, with these upheavals. The Masters can somehow ignore individual interests and short term goals and can look at the BIGGER picture with clarity.
Personally, travel and meeting these greats has made an enormous impact on my life. It has brought humility, passion, focus and clarity in my work as a surgeon. I question myself more often in how I decide and operate, everyday and introspect on self-improvement.
It has also led me to believe that a hospital may not be the best way to dispense health. But that topic is best left for another day!