Surgeons’ Guide to Christmas Parties


Revised edition from a previous post.

Surgeons are normally not comfortable among crowds who talk back to them. Christmas, therefore, presents a challenging social dilemma to the discerning surgeon. On one hand he/she is awkward in social gatherings, on the other he/she knows that being the centre of attention is important for his/her ego.

You know the old joke: “What does a surgeon use for contraception? His personality.”

So I’ve decided to provide help by means of a code of conduct that a surgeon could abide by during this festive season. Following this guide step by step will help alleviate the anxieties of the socially-inept surgeon. Here are my suggestions as to how a surgeon should behave during Christmas parties:

1. Ask, no, demand that the party starts at 0830 am sharp, “Knife to skin”. It does not matter if there are toddlers who wake early or teenagers who wake at lunch. Simply demand that knife hits the turkey skin at 0830am sharp. If there are objections, just say “I am God’s gift to mankind. Take it or leave it.”

2. Upon demanding “Knife to (turkey) skin” at 0830, arrive at 0900, and mumble/murmur/grumble about the traffic, the weather, and the terrible parking, even if the Christmas party was held at the surgeon’s own home.

3. Once everyone’s aware of your complaints, ask what we are doing today and raise your eyebrows/arms/legs and in a kind of “the world is coming to an end” drama sigh and say “How come the turkey/ham/beef is not on the table yet?”

4. When the turkey/ham/beef is finally on the table, complain immediately about the position of the turkey on the table, the height of the table and the position of the chairs.

5. Ask someone to drape the turkey while you go and wash your hands. This is a time to grab the surgical magnifying loupes if you wanna go all the way to impress people. Do a proper 5 minute surgical scrub from fingertip to elbows.

6. Upon returning to the operating Christmas table, complain immediately about the draping of the turkey. Then ask someone to adjust the lighting in the room and the height of the table.

7. Complain once more about the weather, traffic and parking.

8. Ask for knife and demand total silence in the room. Make sure everyone is paying attention.

9. As you make the first incision on the turkey, ask your assistant if there were any preoperative imaging of this turkey. Just grumble if there isn’t or even if there is one. This is also a time to ask for photos to be taken, while you are truly ‘at your game’, whatever meat that is.

10. Ask for fork, tweezers, pickups, thongs or any other instrument to help with turkey dissection. Preferably ask for those that are not in the room so someone can go fetch from another room. Upon returning with the fetched requested instrument, decide not to use it.

11. If you’re encountering trouble during the process of dissection, always blame the instruments, the assistant or the turkey’s difficult anatomy. The problem is never with your skills.

12. Once the turkey is well dissected and evenly distributed to your captive audience, close the skin with 4.0 vicryl and drop all instruments on the table. Walk away from the table, and as you leave the room, say “Merry Christmas” and listen to the rapturous applause as you go through the exit doors.