Meet Dr. Gerald Healy –
accomplished otolaryngologist and dedicated family man.
Learn more about his recipe for success and
how all surgeons can benefit from what he calls a
“House of Surgery”.
Q: What can you tell me about your role as Chief Surgical Officer, of CSurgeries? What are your main areas of focus?
A: First and foremost this really is a unique opportunity! There isn’t any other publication vehicle where all of the “House of Surgery” (as I like to call the surgical groups that are represented on CSurgeries) can present a compendium of information acceptable to all surgeons of all disciplines. As a specialty surgeon, I feel strongly that the surgical disciplines do not interact enough with each other. We have developed a silo mentality in medicine where we’re so focused on our own discipline, we fail to learn from the others. With CSurgeries, we have the ability to learn from surgeons in other disciplines. Even during my tenure as president of the American College of Surgeons, I worked to promote this “House of Surgery” concept ─a place where everyone lives and works together for the common goals of patient safety and quality care.
My primary role as Chief Surgical Officer, is to recruit the very best people we can find in the various surgical disciplines to be the Section Editors. We’ve welcomed some very well-known, accomplished surgeons (such as Dr. Britt who is our General Surgery editor and Dr. Shamberger who is our Pediatric Surgical Section Editor). The idea is to reach out to surgical leaders like these who can then go out and recruit the best videos. Our Section Editors are extremely well respected, recognizable names in their field. So much so that when they pick up the phone, you listen to what they have to say. People recognize that these individuals would only be affiliated with a valid journal that has something worthwhile to offer.
Q: What does CSurgeries have to offer learners of every type (trainees, patients, families, experienced surgeons) compared to other channels of surgical education?
A: CSurgeries is dedicated to serving all of those groups, and we will have to pay special attention to the development of a video library/process that addresses every viewer group. For example, the video presented to a lay person about a laparoscopic cholecystectomy might be completely different from the video we show an advanced surgeon who wants to simply see, “How does Dr. X take out gall bladder? I’d like to see the little tricks he uses when he’s in there”. Paying close attention to the viewing audience is critically important as we move forward- ensuring the production of educationally appropriate videos geared towards each viewer group or learner group.
Similarly, if we’re addressing a medical student audience, it would be acceptable to show them the same video of the gall bladder removal that we might also show a senior surgical professor. However, the audio portion (author explanation/narration) might be very different. Simply stated, the senior professor doesn’t need me telling him, “Put the scope here and look 30 degrees there”. He or she already knows that. What they want to know is, “What kind of a clamp does Dr. X use?” or “What kind of a clip, does he put on the gall bladder when he’s finished?” I expect those nuances would be differentiated through the video narration itself.
Q: Dr. Healy, your list of accomplishments are endless…You are an author, lecturer, scholar, and honorary society member (just to name a few). Where do find this motivation, what fuels you?
A: Like many people in many walks of life, I had a role model that I wanted to emulate. The short version is that when I was a small kid, I have this memory of my pediatrician who would come out in the middle of the night, in the snow, in the rain, and in the ice to see me because I was sick. Those visions stayed with me for my early life and drove me with a passion. I wanted to be like this guy. His name was Eli Friedman – an incredibly unique human being who actually has a lectureship at Boston Medical Center named in his honor because so many of his students over the years were so adoring of him. He’s what drove me.
I always knew I wanted to become a physician, but the question was whether or not I could achieve it. Could I get there? And once I got there, what was I going to do with it? The driving force behind my career really unfolded in three phases:
- The first third of my career, I was a learner. I tried to absorb everything I could from everyone I met because I wanted to be the best surgeon I could be-helping patients with the very best of my ability.
- The second part of my career, I made a concerted effort to try and share my experiences with others. I spent a lot of time giving talks, writing papers, presenting my material at various meetings and listening to the critiques.
- The final third of my career, I decided to help as many as I could by becoming involved in medical organizations focused on driving the agenda so that we were always focused on what’s best for the patient and their quality of care.
*I’m also a passionate guy, who loves his family, always makes time for my wife and daughters and am driven to do the very best I can in all things.
Q: What advice would you give a medical student thinking about becoming a surgeon?
A: First and foremost, DO NOT look at medicine as a job. It’s a profession. Too many students today are looking at lifestyle choices. Being a surgeon is not an easy lifestyle. So, if you’re about working 8 am to 4pm and having all your nights and weekends off, don’t become a surgeon. But if you’re passionate about helping others, easing suffering, and changing things for the better, there is no part of our profession that’s more rewarding than surgery.
I often address medical students in and around Boston, and I let them know they are being given a unique privilege- the privilege of holding the life of another human being in their hands. It is an immense responsibility that you cannot take lightly. Once that person puts their trust in you and says, “Doctor, I need your help…” they need your help until the problem is solved. It’s not a job. It’s a profession and a calling.
- How has medical teaching and surgical learning evolved over the years? Where do you see it going years from now?
Well, when I went to medical school, everything was pictures, book and journal reading and so forth. Now the electronic world has taken over. Visual learning, e-learning and interactive learning is the new norm. When it comes to surgery, people want to talk less and see more. That’ simply the world we live in. Today, simulation and the use of simulators is also extremely important.
I believe we are going to be heavily into robotic surgery. That’s a very important issue to think about because surgeons can easily make the mistake of becoming technicians and not doctors. By that I mean, operating, but having no relationship with the patient. Robots will replace you in the future if you enter surgery solely focused on being a technician and not an empathizing doctor. Let’s not forget about the importance of positive doctor-patient relationships…the very human side of surgery.
Have a question you would like to ask Dr. Healy? Feel free to post a comment or send him an email at Gerald.Healy@csurgeries.com