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Funny Surgeons, Med Times Copyright, All Rights Reserved, 2004-2005

This article is not written to defame any individuals in the surgical profession. Rather, it is my personal opinion of a first hand experience in a surgical unit out of California.

Eating. Drinking. Dancing. Singing. Joking. Laughing. Where would you perform these acts? At a party, at a club, and at a rave. You can also have this much fun in a surgical unit. That is what I found out when I visited some friends this summer. I met surgeons and nurses who were very happy with their lives. However, while they were enjoying their jobs they were unaware of their rude and immoral behavior.

The first surgeon I met was Dr. Y. Initially, I thought he was a kind and respectable gentleman, but when we entered the surgical unit my reverence for him began to diminish. He became one of those arrogant guys at a party always attracting attention to him. He was the surgeon, so of course he was the center of attention. But, he went a step further and satisfied other roles as well. Dr. Y’s procedure involved removing a cyst from a patient’s bottom. The surgery began with music playing and the nurses laughing at a joke about the patient’s private parts. As it continued, one of the nurses began singing and dancing. The other nurses were joking with Dr. Y. After he removed the cyst and began stitching the patient back up, he also indulged in cracking jokes about the patient’s reproductive parts. His least vulgar joke was making fun of her bottom, calling it, " a nice piece of ass". Everyone in the surgical unit was laughing. Then he continued stitching her bottom and making even more vulgar jokes. His most effective line was pretending to kiss the patient’s ass by bending over and making kissing sounds. That really got everyone going. They were having a great time removing a malignant cyst from a patient’s bottom. They ended the surgery in a merry mood at the cost of the patient’s dignity.

Then I met Dr. Z. He was a nice, elderly gentleman who had years of experience under his belt. His procedure was to remove a cancerous section of the large intestine. Even though Dr. Z was much more serious about his procedure than Dr. Y when performing the operation, the nurses did not share the same attitude. As in the last surgical unit, there was music playing when the surgery began. The nurse assisting Dr. Z was also acting giddy. Throughout the procedure she was joking with the other nurse in the operation room. Humor was added to the room when Dr. Z wanted to test his stitching job. He asked one of the nurses to find an instrument that would push air up the patient’s rectum. This would allow him to look for air bubbles and see if his stitches were secure. It took a while for a nurse to find the instrument. In the meantime, the nurses entertained themselves. They came up with creative ways to use other things to substitute for the instruments. One of the nurses suggested to her colleague that he gets his horn and blows it up the patient’s ass. That one liner also got everyone laughing. They eventually found the instrument and continued snickering until the surgery was complete.

Throughout Dr. Y and Dr. Z’s surgeries the anesthesiologist (I’ll dub him Dr. A) was quiet. He would look up occasionally and smile at the comments the nurses and the surgeons had made. Then, when I saw him walk out of the room I noticed a thick novel in his hand. No wonder he was uninterested in making fun of the patient. He had his own form of entertainment; reading a novel while monitoring the vital signs of the patient.

None of the patients died and the surgeries were completed successfully. So the surgeons and the nurses did a great job- or did they? If demeaning a person while under sedation constitutes a successful surgery, then the surgeons did a marvelous job. However, before my trip, I believed surgeons were dignified individuals who demonstrated their respect for the human body by devoting their lives to working on its perfection. Now I have a completely different definition because they morphed into some of my wise ass guy friends as soon as they put on scrubs. Maybe I expected too much. Maybe I met a bad batch of surgeons and nurses. Maybe they use humor to lighten their responsibilities. Or maybe I lost my sense of humor in the surgical unit because they were ridiculing patients at a time when they were the most vulnerable. Whatever makes sense, I know I did not like it. I thought medical school and years of residency and specialization teach a person much more then how to perform a surgical procedure. Shouldn’t they have also learned some ethics and picked up a few codes of moral conduct? Whatever happened to upholding the Hippocratic Oath? Are surgeons becoming insensitive because of the mental torture they experience through their academic careers? Or are they entering medical school as apathetic individuals? As the millennium approaches, I hope the surgeons of the future have some compassion and dignity in them; otherwise, the surgical profession will lose the respect that it has maintained in the past.