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The day I decided surgery was for me…obligation to parents.

Authors: Name: Sakshi Roy; Second-year medical student and Queens University Belfast; United Kingdom

Awed as blood pulsed beneath the fingers of the surgeon I was shadowing, I watched the first few signs of life return to a previously cold body, as a bypass was performed, a magnificent blend of science and art. In witnessing their craftsmanship, I developed deep respect for how surgeons are masterful and scrupulous practitioner of dissection who craft definitive solutions to a problematic condition. After talking to the surgeon more, I was immediately struck by how a good surgeon is far more than a masterful technician. At the core, they are physical healers in whom unprecedented trust is placed by the patients. This made me realize that in addition to the tangible solutions made possible through surgery, I was also attracted to the vulnerability that is innate to this field. In the operating theatre, the unconscious patient defers their awareness to the surgeon, who come to know their patient  in a way that the patient can never know themselves.

This distinctive surgeon-patient relationship became particularly evident during the care of one particular patient. They were distraught having to face a major first-time surgery, fearing the unknown. Here, what was previously to me an interesting condition in a medical textbook was now changed with the gravity of a patient’s experience and the confidence they placed in their surgeons. Further, I was also inspired by how the surgical team went  above and beyond the call of duty in the patient’s postoperative care.

I approach my life with a strong feeling of responsibility. This was instilled in me from witnessing my parents giving up their unfulfilled aspirations in order to invest in their children when we emigrated to the United Arab Emirates from India. I remember in the moments when I thanked my parents for their sacrifice and dedication to us, my mother’s response was always that she was merely following her responsibilities and doing what was right. I knew I had discovered my true calling in surgery when I observed this similar quality in the way surgeons cared for their patients. With unwavering dedication, surgeons earn their patients’ confidence and offer the chance to start normal life again for both themselves and others. When difficulties undoubtedly arise, this sense of responsibility will keep me grounded and make me work harder to improve my patients’  outcomes.

The combination of surgical craftsmanship and trust placed by the patient in the surgeon, together with the surgeon’s reciprocal sense of duty cemented my decision to pursue a career as a surgeon.


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