Every moment is a teachable moment…

HT had a minor surgical procedure recently, and the kids and I were waiting in an operating room lounge. A surgeon came out to talk with the husband of another patient. He sat down in a chair next to the guy, and said,

“I just want to give you a heads up on what happened in there.”

The guy looked concerned as the surgeon continued, “Your wife is fine, everything went fine, but when we got into the operating room, the instruments weren’t sterilized yet, and that is unacceptable, so I was… pretty hard on the nurses,” he kind of patted the husband on the back, like a co-conspirator.

The husband nodded, relieved. His wife was fine. Whatever about the nurses, not his main concern, obviously.

The surgeon was covering his ass for having a major temper tantrum in front of his patient. Does a patient, all prepped for surgery, probably nervous, really need to witness that?

It must have been a doozie of a meltdown too, because word of it had trickled over into HT’s operating room. He’d heard all about it before he went under anesthesia.

Really professional.

People like this surgeon think they’re tough, but they are not. They are weak. Too weak and powerless to have a handle on their own emotions. They are abusive. And it appeared this guy thought he was perfectly justified.

And hospitals allow it to happen all the time with physicians. Surgeons are the worst, because they are the big money makers, so no one holds them accountable for their bad behavior, and everyone kisses their butts.

I’ve worked in an OR. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Many times. Of course not all surgeons are pricks, (I’ve met plenty of nice ones) but there is definitely a higher prick percentage among surgeons than the general population.

This is all anecdotal of course. I have not done a double blind placebo controlled study on the prick ratio of surgeons, but if I did? I bet there’d be a statistical significance.

Our homeschooling that day consisted of a wonderful discussion about the abuse of power. About treating others with respect. About holding people accountable without resorting to temper tantrums and verbal assaults.

Every moment is a teachable moment.

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10 Responses to Every moment is a teachable moment…

  1. Leah says:

    Very nice! I try my best to find the teachable moments in situations. You inspire me to do it more.

  2. kario says:

    As someone who has been an OR assistant, I can attest to the fact that surgeons have a much different sensibility about them. I do often wonder, though, whether it is a response to the awesome responsibility of their undertaking. Having never worked with a female surgeon, I can’t say whether it is different sans testosterone, but most men I know respond to pressure by becoming “tough guys.” There is that notion they have that if they show any weakness, either with a patient or their support staff, they will lose respect. Someone needs to teach them that they will gain respect if they show humanity…

  3. Carrie Link says:

    I have a new friend that’s a surgeon. She is so un-surgeon like, and I mean that as the highest compliment!

  4. Jenny R says:

    Hope Todd is healing okay. Happy holidays!

  5. Meg says:

    Very interesting. I have had lots of contact with medical professionals this year, including surgeons. I also have vivid memories of dealing with various doctors in the legal setting. I do think many surgeons have an arrogance about them, but I also recognize that in the OR they are the captains of the ship -if anything goes wrong, they are accountable. What they often fail to realize is that true leadership does not come from intimidation and bullying. You can always tell a person’s character y how they treat those “below” them in the hieracrchy. And don’t think I think for a minute that nurses and other medical professionls are “less” than docs……I know better!

  6. amber says:

    I was just talking to my friend Brandee, who was so sick a bit ago, about this. She got her chart, and being an ex-ICU nurse herself, realized how crazy close she really came, but also saw things in the chart that made her wonder about what when wrong. (she went into heart failure during extubation, among other things). She said she felt like her main nurse was not being head by her doctors and surgeons…

    I always though I would have been a good surgeon! Maybe another life. BUT I wouldn’t be a prick. I mean, not every day. 😉

    Another note– How ODD! I was reading this and having SUCH HUGE deja vu! I was thinking, ‘is this old? did she write this before..?’


  7. Gretchen says:

    Your use of the phrase ‘prick percentage’ put me right over the edge, Michelle.

    Prick percentage.

    Cannot. Stop. Giggling.

    Thanks a lot,

  8. Wanda says:

    I hope HT is recovering well.

    I absolutely agree with you about the prick ratio among surgeons. I have another take on it–the percentage of physicians who are character disordered has to be 10x that of the general population.

    Love that you turned this into a teachable moment.

  9. Wanda says:

    PS…Love your banner. EVERYONE looks so happy!

  10. Amanda says:

    Oh crap. This is resonating all too well with me which says I really am creeping ever closer to home schooling Bear.

    (That “Oh crap” statement was actually meant as a compliment btw, if I had never read your blog I never would be even considering that I could home school Bear, so, book format or not you already are inspirational 🙂 )

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