Medical Procedures as a Form of Art

Where is the “craftsmanship” in medical procedures? The term implies there is an imaginative and formative vigour to the routine. Clearly, an artisan is someone who is capable and gifted in the trade and has an innate inclination. In all honesty, all of these depictions can apply to cosmetic surgery as well, in that it is conceivably an art.

Unmistakably, there is a massive application of science, exactness and determined risk-taking in the restorative surgery business. Although some have a more noticeable improvement than others. Surgeons, like artists, acquire their skillset via a series of training and then further enhancing it by adding their personal touch. In hindsight, this application of personification is most likely what we would perceive as “art”.

Speaking and teaching at provincial and national symposiums make me comprehend more the variety of this art. I listen eagerly as different speakers talk about their strategy or styles with particular circumstances, and I contrast them with my methodologies. Not that one procedure is superior to another, however, observing how various doctors deal with the same issue in multiple approaches merely is awe-inspiring. Surgeons work for years to perfect their specialty such as breast surgery tailoring and learning new techniques to cater for a variety of patients and produce the best end result possible. Some procedures such as double eyelid surgery may be considered an art in itself, the delicate manipulation of the eyelid requires great skill and precision as many techniques do.

In all honesty, this is, I believe, what constitutes as art. Specialists cultivate their medium and technique in the business and know personally which instrument they can use to complete a specific requirement. The fact of the matter is, others can do substantially more with an Austin/Chevron bunionectomy, and some will definitely do more with a Scarf compared to me. But does this indeed make a difference? No, only that, we utilise varied apparatus to manage the same issues.

What, I figure, can go amiss is when what we all see is a nail, and yet we all offer the same hammer. Inquire amongst yourselves and fellow surgeons, what number of approaches can you employ with situation X? Get the discussion going and try using bunions as an example of consistency. I believe you will encounter art in every interaction. The results in general are: “For this bunion, I do X. For that kind, I run with Y, and when it is some other kind, I choose Z.”

The question is, how does one have options X, Y and Z? It is long stretches of studying, researching, and a lot of hands-on experiences and of refining their abilities to enhance their “workmanship”. Surgeons, like artists, choose to keep utilising their skill so they can calibrate and further improve their expertise. So at your next assembly or symposium, ask the attendees or participants how they manage this problem or that test, and inquire as to why they chose the said approach. I figure you may find that specialists are surrounding us who have a skill that they have aced and would love to share.

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