Duty, Discipline and Delight

Surgery should be built on a bedrock of duty and discipline. Otherwise one will not enjoy the delight it offers.

As a trainee surgeon, doing long hours in the hospital is a necessary evil I wil have to endure. There has been many a times when I’ve not been able to reach home at night, or that I hit the doorsteps of the home, only to be called back to the hospital. I’m getting very familiar with the old cranky bed we have in the residents’ quarters.

Particularly in ENT, when our emergencies are true life or death emergencies (such as a potential airway disaster), there are many times when I have had to stay in the hospital to be within 5 minutes of the patient.

We are doing it better than our bosses, who literally used to live in the hospital for weeks. I get to go home every couple of days or so. Still, its not a nice idea to think that I’ll be missing much of my wife and son.

As a trainee surgeon, I need to develop a habit of discipline and a sense of duty. I don’t choose to work hard. I am expected to. It is a minimum standard that a trainee surgeon trains his/her mind, heart, emotion and body to endure tough times.

But this is not unique to surgery. Training hard is a feature of many demanding jobs. Most successful people get to where they are by training hard. We often only see the results broadcast, but not see the gruesome training that leads up to the results. World class athletes, musicians, and leaders, if they’re worth their weight in gold, would have put in years of unseen training and preparation time to get to where they are.

In my pursuit to be a great surgeon, I need to do years of unseen hard work. I need to delay the delight of surgery, because I need to work hard on the discipline and duty of surgery. I need to do it with humility, respect and honor, knowing that if I really want to be useful to my patients in the future, I need to put in the hard work today.

What about you? Duty and discipline will ultimately lead to delight. What unseen work are you doing today in preparation for the delight of results in the future?