Andrew J. Goates, MD is a first-year Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery resident at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He is passionate about patient and physician education through the use of video and digital media and a member of the CSurgery Student Leaders. You can follow him on Twitter @goatesworld and on Instagram @goatolaryngologist.
“I like making movies, but I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it. Hopefully I’ll figure it out.”
That was my response. Those were my big career goals. It was our first date and I had just blown my opportunity to knock her socks off with my impressive aspirations and intellectual prowess. Somehow, despite her better judgement and advice of close friends, she continued allowing my romantic pursuits. Eventually, with her support, I discovered my love for medicine. We talked about my role models, many of which were in the medical field. I recognized that I wanted to do something everyday that brought new questions, challenges, and opportunities and at the same time directly impacted peoples’ lives. Medicine became the natural fit.
While in medical school and I spent the first two years trying to gain as much knowledge and experience as I could in order to match into my dream specialty of Otolaryngology– Head & Neck Surgery. I worked in the department as often as I could: helping with publications; attending lectures and grand rounds; all the while learning from residents, fellows, and staff surgeons. One of my mentors approached me about doing a surgical video on a new technique he had learned for excision of branchial cleft cysts. I didn’t know how to remove any type of cyst, and I didn’t even know what a branchial cleft cyst was. But, I did have a natural drive and curiosity, the motivation to learn, and a basic video editing skill set that I could contribute.
Through developing that video I saw the potential of surgical video footage in many aspects of education in surgery and medicine. I learned the practical anatomy relevant to this surgery. I learned about common pitfalls and picked up on the subtleties of technique and tissue handling. Although at that point I had not performed a single surgery, I got to spend a few moments in the mind of a surgeon. I became more prepared for when my opportunity to operate would soon come. In addition, I got to spend important moments learning from and working with a phenomenal surgeon. That project helped strengthen our mentoring relationship and lead to more opportunities for me to reach my potential with a strong letter of recommendation for residency applications.
Since that time I have consistently used high-quality surgical videos to research procedures, learn complex anatomy, and to augment my study of head and neck surgery. Surgical videos can help a learner assimilate difficult three-dimensional relationships and translate memorized anatomy and concepts into practical understanding needed to safely navigate a given operation. This allows a growing surgeon have a foundation on which to build the surgical skills needed to become a proficient and safe surgeon. I have really appreciated the work of CSurgeries in housing excellent surgical videos and making them available for all to benefit from.
So my career does involve making movies after all. But they are far more meaningful than what I had in mind. They don’t just tell stories. These movies teach, inspire, and motivate aspiring surgeons and inform nervous patients and their families from all over the world.