Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Personality For Surgery?

I don't really know what people mean when they say, "oh you've got the personality for surgery". Is that like having a face for radio? Because to me, that is what it sounds like.

When I think of surgeons (apologies in advance to any who might be reading this) I usually envision an ego-maniac who likes to have hissy fits. Someone who is impatient, brusk, irritable, and cold. Granted, in the last while that stereotype has been opposed by many of the all-around-awesome surgeons I've met and worked with. Many of them well rounded, caring, hilarious, sensitive folks...really!

The other night myself and and handful of the junior attendings were out for supper and the registrar (a position equivalent to resident purgatory as far as I can tell) was going on about our astrology signs and when he found out I was a Leo he joked that I was the quintessential Leo. Now he's been around hospitals for a long, long time so I asked him if he thought there were specialties suited to certain Astrology signs (I am grasping at straws here people, I know that) and he laughed and said, "Do you mean, 'what should I go into because I am a Leo?'"

"Er. Yes." All eyes around the table fixed on me. Conversation stopped. Now I was feeling awkward.

"Well, surgery of course. Lots of Leo's gravitate to surgery."


"Because they are bossy and need to always be the center of attention!"

Ah, thank you. Yes. Well I suppose I did ask.


OMDG said...

I've been told that I have a "surgery personality" before. It wasn't a complement. But then again the person who told me that was a passive aggressive bitch, so I wasn't terribly hurt. :-)

I think hearing it from a surgeon just means they like you.

Albinoblackbear said...

Hahahah, nice.

Yeah, I suppose if it is coming from a surgeon one takes it as a compliment! :)

Anonymous said...

Ok, while I totally agree that what he said was mean, I kinda LOVE this question. I'm going to pitch it as an article for Scrubs, unless it would offend people across the board?

Albinoblackbear said...

Halie--I don't think it would offend people across the board...Michelle Au and Fizzy have done hilarious cartoons about the different types of personalities in specialties, and I think (most) people take it with good humor.

PGYx said...

I agree with OMDG's last statement.

I love working with surgeons during med school/internship and am sorry I won't get to do it more now that I've moved on to residency. The closest I get to it now is when I call Neuro or Ortho about one of my patients.

On the other hand, I wish the surgeon's schedule upon no one.

PGYx said...

*loved :-)

Grumpy, M.D. said...

I don't think "you have a neurology personality" would be taken as a compliment. Unless you were at ComicCon.

Anonymous said...

I used to be told I had an ER personality, which (I think) is equal parts compliment and insult.

Just an Intern said...

Whatever. I agree with Old MD Girl, it just means they like you and want to try to make you like them.

I understand where you're coming from completely though!!

Keet said...

ABB - your personality will take you anywhere you want to go. Surgery, A&E, Rural GP, Gyne, GUM, wherever you find yourself, you're gonna kick-A$$. Speaking of which, we need to catch up... I just got a research post with Dept. of Sexual Health!!!

Chris Porter MD said...

Instant results, maximum control (ie, anesthetized patients interfere very little in their care), and short doctor-patient relationships are the juvenile motivations that drew me to surgery. No apologies.

A surgery personality is, above all, self-assured. Like a pilot or troop commander, you accept risk and believe that your actions in desperate moments will be the right ones.

Surgery personality is a compliment even when meant as a slur.

TheTracker said...

"But then again the person who told me that was a passive aggressive bitch, so I wasn't terribly hurt. :-)"

That you dismiss people as "a passive aggressive bitch" is probably the kind of thing that makes people think you have "a surgical personality."

"A surgery personality is, above all, self-assured."

I would say that culture of surgery requires everyone (when they reach a certain point) to act self-assured and commanding, which hangs well on the talented and hardworking, becomes a brittle arrogance in the less talented trying to brazen it through, and is positively dangerous in some people as they shut themselves off from help and refuse to recognize when they are in over their heads.

Self-assurance is fine if you've got the stones and the brains to back it up. Unfortunately, not all surgeons do.