Today was my first day at Baptist hospital. It's only a mile from Vanderbilt. I'm on my OB/GYN rotation, and I get to spend 2 weeks there.
During a complicated operation:
The attending tells me to cut about 15 sutures exactly 1.5 centimeters from the knot. I proceed to do so, one at a time.
Dr.: Too long.Me: Ok
Dr.: Too short
Dr.: Too short.
Dr. Too long.
This continued until all were cut. He asked both my medical student partner and me, "why did I do that?"
My partner's response was, "Hazing???" The resident on the case gave her a funny look.
"No," he said.
"Perfection," I answered.
Surgery is a technical as well as academic skill. Perfection is an unatainable goal that surgeons strive for. So even after a lifetime of practice, one is always still improving, striving toward that goal of perfection. That's why they call it the "practice" of medicine.
It's just like rowing. I've rowed for many years, and taken litterally millions of strokes with the oar. As of late, I've been watching training videos made by an olympic gold and silver medalist, Xeno Muller. He's reached the very top of his profession, yet every day he continually tries to improve his stroke, reaching for that unatainable goal. And that's what makes an excellent oarsman, as well as an excellent surgeon. And I look forward to a lifetime of trying to hone my skills.