Are surgeons & professional athletes alike more than they realize? A recent article discusses the differences and similarities between highly trained surgeons & professional athletes. Perhaps there are more similarities than one would first expect.
How Can Surgeons & Professional Athletes Be Compared?
According to the article: An “athlete” is one whose performance depends on a carefully choreographed interplay between mind and body: heightened focus and anticipation along with quick decision-making and coordination. Combined with the reliance on teamwork and requisite stamina, this is wholly within the job description of a surgeon. I find this description to be quite accurate leading to my assumption that surgeons & professional athletes are similar. Some may argue that the challenges to the mind of a surgeon are greater compared to most athletes while the physical challenge is less, but this can also vary depending on the moment. Athletes compete against an opponent. Sometimes directly, as in football or basketball, or sometimes less directly as in bowling or archery. Who is the surgeon’s opponent? Well, it is the patient of course, not that the patient is trying to ‘beat’ the surgeon at anything, but with a bit of a stretch you can see that the patient’s ILLNESS is trying to beat the surgeon. If surgery is for cancer or infection, the ‘opponent’ actually IS a living, breathing opponent. In this way, surgeons & professional athletes while facing different challenges, have to act similarly.
What Is Important For Both Surgeons & Professional Athletes?
As the article discusses, proper sleep and nutrition, health and exercise are as important to the demands of surgery as to athletes. The ability to focus and concentrate is paramount. Time is an interesting concept when it comes to a surgical procedure. I would not say that time stands still while I am performing surgery, but it is more a feeling (that I realize only afterwards) that time did not exist. It was not a factor, it was not part of my experience. I suppose the concentration level is so high (and of course somewhat variable depending on the complexity of the procedure) that it is not at all unusual that 2 or 3 hours go by without any awareness on my part of the interval at all. So I will continue to try to get quality sleep, maintain good nutrition, and play squash which is fun but also great exercise. Dr. Newman is a Las Vegas Urologist and he believes that surgeons & professional athletes have a similar mindset.