A Day in the Life of a Surgeon
For general surgeons, no two days are exactly alike.
To get a sense of all the things these versatile physicians do, we asked general surgeons Bruce Waring, MD, Juhi Asad, DO, and Bryan Baer, MD, to give us a sense of how a typical day might unfold at Lutheran Medical Center.
Morning Checkout Rounds
Hospitalized patients’ progress and issues from the previous day and night are discussed, and suggestions are made for further care. Today’s cases a so reviewed. The on-call surgeon who is completing his shift updates the group on a patient injured in a car crash who required surgery last night to remove a ruptured spleen. Another surgeon seeks input on the best approach for an elderly patient who is scheduled for a complex hernia repair.
The surgeons disperse into groups to check on patients in the hospital and discuss their progress with nurses and clinical staff. While Dr. Waring and Dr. Baer are examining a patient recovering from gallbladder surgery, Dr. Baer, who is the surgeon on call, is summoned to the Emergency Department to see a patient who has come in with a suspected appendicitis.
9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Surgery and Office Visits
Dr. Baer enters the operating room for the appendectomy, his first case of the day. He performs the case laparoscopically through three 1⁄4-inch incisions; the patient should be able to leave the next morning.
Over the next eight hours, he fields calls from the Emergency Department, the Intensive Care Unit and other departments throughout the hospital. He’s called on to perform three more emergency procedures, including treating an intestinal obstruction, a strangulated hernia and a perforated ulcer. He also admits six patients who may require surgery and must be monitored in the hospital overnight.
Dr. Asad, who has advanced training in breast cancer surgery, spends the day in the operating room doing elective, or planned, cases. She has met with her patients in her office over the previous month to discuss their options and determine the best surgical approach. Her cases today include a breast tumor biopsy, a lumpectomy and a mastectomy. Before each one, she visits patients and their family members in the pre-op surgical area to review the procedure and answer any questions.
Dr. Waring spends the day in his office, meeting new patients and following up with patients he operated on last week. “It’s very important to answer questions in terms patients understand and carefully lay out all of their options,” he says. He spends at least 45 minutes with new patients, examining them, determining if further testing is needed and answering questions.
As the day winds down, the surgeons use their after-hours time to catch up on the latest developments in their field. Dr. Asad prepares for a self-assessment exam that the American Board of Surgery requires every surgeon to complete every three years to maintain certification. Dr. Baer works on a lecture that he’ll be presenting at a surgical conference next week. And Dr. Waring reviews an article in a medical journal on a new surgical technique for hernia repair.
All in the Family
Julie Curtis, 58, of Denver, was understandably anxious when she learned that she’d need surgery to remove a tumor on her parathyroid gland (the parathyroid gland is in the neck and helps the body regulate calcium levels). Her sister, who had undergone the same procedure five years earlier, recommended Bruce Waring, MD, a renowned general surgeon at Lutheran Medical Center.
Curtis’s surgery went very well. “I was so impressed with Dr. Waring that I asked him to perform my mother’s hernia procedure this summer; I know she’ll be in great hands,” she says. “Some people have a family doctor—we just happen to have a family surgeon.”
»GENERAL SURGERY PROCEDURES
Lutheran Medical Center works with Surgical Specialists of Colorado, a well-established practice of 23 surgeons who provide round-the-clock care. Here are some of the procedures they offer:
Trauma, acute care, thoracic surgery, laparoscopic surgery, complex gastrointestinal (GI)/ pancreatic/esophageal/hepatobiliary surgeries, head and neck surgeries
Cancer surgery, including removal of tumors in the breast, skin and soft tissue, as well as cancers of the GI tract
Abdominal organ surgery, including gallbladder removal, appendectomy and hernia repair
Endocrine system surgery, including procedures on the thyroid and parathyroid glands in the neck and the adrenal glands above the kidneys
Vascular system surgery