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Surgery Grand Rounds

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Education Schedule

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Education Schedule - February 2016 (PDF)  

Surgery Scheduling

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All for One …

Message From the Chair

I recently had the pleasure of attending the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons meeting in Santa Barbara (Jan. 15-17) and the Pacific Coast Surgical meeting (Feb. 13-15). The best part of both meetings was the continued and remarkable academic productivity of our residents, faculty and attending staff, as evidenced by a large number of presentations in the poster, specialty and plenary sessions.

The outstanding presentations spanned the entirety of surgical disciplines to include trauma, thoracic surgery, cardiac surgery, vascular surgery, resident curriculum changes and GI surgery. Participants included Matt Bloom, MD, Doug Liou, MD, Marissa Srour, MD, Cory Donovan, MD, Jenny Hong, MD, Derek Serna-Gallegos, MD, Galinos Barmparas, MD, Monica Jain, MD, Heidi Reich, MD, Ara Ko, MD, Justin Steggerda, MD, Joshua Chan, MD, Daisy Chou, MD, and Jan Kaminski, MD.

Ara Ko was the champion of Trauma Jeopardy, continuing Cedars-Sinai's outstanding performance in these intellectual Feats of Strength (please excuse the Seinfeld Festivus reference). Shirin Towfigh, MD, was the latest in a long list of Cedars-Sinai physicians to serve as president of the SoCal ACS, and Farin Amersi, MD, Ed Phillips, MD, and Dan Margulies, MD, continue in their leadership roles within both organizations.

In these meetings, I also had the chance to discuss some favorite topics — career development and the quest for work-life balance. Both are needed to maintain fulfillment throughout a career. That said, balancing professional and personal goals has undoubtedly been a challenge for surgeons since Galen's time.

One of the most interesting byproducts of giving such a talk is receiving informal and very personal feedback from a large number of people at different stages of their careers. While the perspective of old and young varies a bit, I am almost always impressed with the maturity of most surgeons, irrespective of age.

From such discussions and personal experience, it is clear that no matter how enlightened you are, it is impossible not to occasionally encounter stressful periods that test your equilibrium. The key is recognizing the signs of such tension and learning to do what defuses it. No question, this is far easier said than done.

For a start, it requires the insight to notice how short we sometimes get with others after being up all night or the frustration that we have trouble controlling when we are trying to get an emergency case booked into the O.R. while figuring out how we can ever attend to a packed patient waiting room. Understanding the impact of these challenges will not prevent their occurrence, as they basically come with high-stress professions, but the behaviors and attitudes that neutralize our negative emotions can be learned with maturity. These coping mechanisms may be different for each of us.

One of the other themes that came through this year was the understanding that peer support is an indispensable factor in maintaining an "even strain," no matter what stage of your career you are occupying. While we all can understand it is a good deed to give a stressed colleague a chance to vent, the converse (i.e. accepting support) may be an even greater test for many of us. After all, surgeons are among the most self-reliant of people. Certainly no patient wants a surgeon who says, "I sure hope I can do a successful operation." Still, the down side of our well-documented confidence in our technical skills is often an inability to admit when we need help in other areas and accept it when it is offered.

I was reminded of the value of such support when looking over the audience at the recent meetings. When a Cedars-Sinai resident, fellow or attending was presenting at the podium or competing in one of the resident competitions, their peers were uniformly in the audience, cheering them on.

Such collegiality and mutual support has become a consistent theme in our residency programs and comes through very positively during recruitment season. As much as anything, it defines the environment that has been established here and goes a long way to making it fun to go to work for all of us.

Bruce L. Gewertz, MD
H and S Nichols Distinguished Chair in Surgery
Chair, Department of Surgery
Vice President, Interventional Services
Vice Dean, Academic Affairs