Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Dr. Emery Neal Brown

It's not often anesthesiologists get a write up in the press. It's even rarer that we are mentioned in an article that's not about impaired physicians or enablers of prescription drug abusers. So it is quite refreshing to read a New York Times article about Dr. Emery Neal Brown, a professor of anesthesiology at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Brown is very frank about why he chose anesthesiology. He states he likes the fast pace of the profession. Unlike most other medical fields, anesthesiologists also have relatively more predictable work hours with which he can indulge in his other love, research. That line should be used for every medical student aspiring to get into an anesthesiology residency.

He talks about his work into the neurophysiology of anesthesia. He frowns on telling the patient they are being put to sleep. Instead he prefers the euphemism reversible drug-induced coma. Being put to sleep is for the veterinary hospital, not the Veterans Hospital. He also discusses the difficulty of conducting anesthesia research on live human beings. I never really thought about the ethical dilemma of conducting research in anesthesia--is it proper to give a patient anesthesia only for research purposes if the patient is not undergoing surgery? He has a very interesting, and ingenious, solution to that problem.

So go ahead and surf over to the NYT. Feel good about all the great men and women who keep our field at the forefront of medical research. Perhaps you too may feel a little inspiration in becoming a better anesthesiologist.

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