Before surgeons operate, they confirm the diagnosis and make their own study of the patient's condition. They examine patients and question them to ensure that they fully understand their condition and the procedure. Surgeons speak with patients about any alternatives to the procedure. In some cases, they may speak with patients about possible decisions the surgeon may need to make once they are engaged in the procedure, particularly if the surgeon cannot be sure of the characteristics of the condition until they have cut into the patient.
Surgeons' chief responsibility during surgery is to protect the patient's safety. This means minimizing the risk of the surgery. Secondly, the surgeon is responsible for completing the surgery in a competent manner and maximizing the chance that the surgery achieves its objective. Surgeons are responsible for researching and training in their area of expertise to ensure that they are skilled in the latest and best techniques and in the use of any equipment they may use during the course of an operation.
Following surgery, the surgeon informs family members of the result of the surgery and the next steps. The surgeon also provides directions and guidance for the nursing unit that will care for the patient. In addition, the surgeon visits the patient to monitor his condition and to explain the surgery's outcome. If a complication develops, the surgeon is responsible for tending to it, particularly because surgeons should be best equipped to identify and treat a surgical complication.
In each stage of a surgeon's work, collaboration with other medical professionals is a critical responsibility. Surgeons work with physicians to develop medical care strategies for a patient, and the decision to proceed to surgery may be made as part of a discussion with other doctors, such as a family doctor or a radiologist. Surgeons work with nurses to ensure that a patient prepares properly for surgery and to manage the recovery process. During surgery, surgeons work with anesthesiologists.
Most surgeons work in private or public hospitals, although some may go into private practice. They generally work long hours, which may include evenings and weekend. Surgeons are also required to be on-call in case of an emergency.
Surgeons operate in theatre rooms and everything within there must be completely sterile and surgeons must also wear protective clothing.
Surgeons have a high level of contact with their patients and often the patients’ families. They also work closely with a range of other medical professionals, including general practitioners, nurses and anaesthetists.
1. Recognize when a patient needs to be transferred to the ICU.
2. Deliver bad news compassionately, yet honestly.
3. Identify a pneumothorax on a chest radiograph.
4. Diagnose iron deficiency anemia.
5. Help a patient stop smoking cigarettes.
6. Diagnose thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, which has a mortality rate of 90% if not treated and 10-20% if treated.
7. Distinguish between the various tachyarrhythmias.
8. Explain a disease or procedure to patients in plain, understandable terms.
9. Use the internet to find medical information and references.
10. Know when to speak, and when to listen.
11. Practice what they preach, especially when it comes to a healthy diet.
12. Take a blood pressure.
13. Find enlarged lymph nodes or splenomegaly on examination.
14. Know when to call in a consultant and when to do the work themselves.
15. Successfully treat hypertension, or find a doctor who can.
16. Refer a patient to the right specialist at the right time, or at least within a reasonable time period.
17. Be unafraid to say “I don’t know.”
18. Understand the precious value of time, both theirs and their patients’.
19. View their medical colleagues as a source of support, information and camaraderie.
20. Treat nurses and other staff in a courteous and professional manner.
21. Learn the gentle art of patience, patience and more patience.
22. Keep up with important advances in health care and research.
23. Never let anger, the killer of careers, interfere with the mission at hand.
24. Be able to always, always, have a plan of action to help a patient.
25. Appreciate the unique gifts each physician carries within, and never let a tough day become an excuse to withhold them from those who need them the most.