“These conversations can be difficult,” Dr. Babu said. “They may require having to tell the person who hired you or your mentor that they shouldn’t operate anymore.” She advises the individual in authority to start such a conversation by emphasizing the surgeon’s strengths, which demonstrates respect and shows that you recognize and appreciate their value. Then, go on to say that you’re getting pressure from the hospital system, patient safety committee, or whomever, about the need for them to stop operating.
Explore This IssueAugust 2018
Then, if at all possible, offer them alternatives to continue working if they choose to do so. “Tell them that their benefit is much broader than the operating room, and that you want to harness their ability and talent, but that you must be sensitive to safety issues,” Dr. Babu said. “Don’t simply tell them that they need to relinquish their keys, and that they’re done.”
Other Options for Surgeons
Many options remain for otolaryngology surgeons looking to keep working but in a different capacity, such as performing less complex surgical procedures, assisting others in the operating room, teaching in and out of the surgical suite, and working in a medical practice assessing patients for surgery.
“I think our specialty makes it possible to transition from surgical to non-surgical work,” Dr. Chole said. “You can still have a successful medical practice without doing surgery.”
Karen Appold is a freelance medical writer in Pennsylvania.