I usually don't like to comment on the opinions of other anesthesiologists, much less dump on them. After all their opinions are their own and why should I try to refute their beliefs. But I just read an opinion piece in the widely seen and respected site KevinMD. Written by Dr. Shirie Leng, it is so outrageous and preposterous that I felt I needed to make a counterpoint.
Titled, "Anesthesiologists have to start to truly care for patients," Dr. Leng, a former nurse, starts off by stating that anesthesiology is for people who don't like to relate with patients. She describes the interaction between a patient and an anesthesiologist as thus, "He reviews the information the surgeon and nurse have compiled in the
patient’s chart. “Hi, How are you? I’m your anesthesiologist. Anything
to eat or drink today? Any problems with anesthesia in the past? No?
Great! I’m going to put your IV in and then we’ll get going.”
I don't know about Dr. Leng, but my bedside manners are much friendlier and more refined than what she depicts. If that is how she talks to her patients, I wouldn't want her to be my anesthesiologist either. While my time with patients are constrained by necessity, that doesn't mean I can't have a meaningful exchange with them and their families. As a matter of fact I have patients who ask for me by name whenever they need to come back for another procedure. All good anesthesiologists have been blessed with the appreciation of grateful patients. Maybe Dr. Leng just hasn't had the privilege of being loved by her patients if she thinks that's how patients see us.
Naturally this drivel has generated quite a bit of publicity for herself, the way a bad wedding video can go viral for no other reason than that it was bad. So she wrote a response post on her blog with a blatantly backhanded compliment of anesthesiologists. I'm not going to bother linking to that nonsense since I don't believe I want to give her any more exposure than she already has. But let's just say she doesn't appear to love any anesthesiologist except maybe herself and her anesthesiologist husband.
For any medical students out there contemplating anesthesiology, obviously don't believe everything you might read about this profession. Talk to an anesthesia attending that you respect and get their perspective. I bet he or she can regale you on how crucial a good anesthesiologist is for patient care. We truly save lives every day. As for me, I feel lucky every day that I work in a job I love. I wouldn't have it any other way.