Dr. Johnson Welcomes New Members
Christopher J. Johnson, D.O., FACOS gave the charge to new members being inducted at the Ceremonial Conclave during the 2015 Annual Clinical Assembly. Addressing the new members among the audience, he said:
“Welcome, new members. We are a community of physicians, a family of specialists together within a larger community of all surgeons and physicians. We share many of the same challenges and successes. We are a diverse group of backgrounds, but we are connected in ways only like-minded individuals can connect.
I grew up wanting to be a doctor, a surgeon. My father, now retired, was a general surgeon by training, a D.O., served as my guide. Like many children of physicians, I spent many days as a youngster in a lab coat trailing in the footsteps of my greatest mentor - a humble, and generous father, dedicated to the community of D.O.s, at a time when there was greater separation between M.D.s and D.O.s. Relatively minor differences in the broader picture, but nonetheless, a separation of physicians existed. His generation, those that have come before, and those who come after have made many strides in breaking down those barriers and proving that we are more like-minded than we are different. Connecting though shared training and experiences. Working side by side, interacting with one another. Breaking down the barriers real or perceived as we understand there are more similarities than differences.
I followed in those footsteps my father laid before me, even so far as residency, training as he did at Mount Clemens General Hospital, hearing his whispers in the halls from the people he affected those many years before. It was a warm and familiar blanket to wrap myself in as I, my co-chief Dr. Sheridan, and our fellow residents toiled on through the years. I can't thank my teachers enough for the knowledge imparted upon me. The hours seemed endless at the time, but in reality only a brief stent looking back. I had the honor to join him in surgical practice and from day one was treated as an equal. In fact, I think he left for vacation the day I started. It can't get more equal than that, can it?
The father, teacher, trainer, became the friend, the partner and even the student. Full of confidence, my training complete, I was ready for anything that THEY could throw at me, like I'm sure many of you feel today. Of course, it didn't take me long to realize, training and learning are never really complete. I saw it in my father and I have experienced it personally. Experience continues to educate if you let it.
You learn that your skills are raw, unrefined, and the pressures build as the new external expectations mount. Your experience and that of your fellow surgeons is what you learn to rely upon. What we consider the practice of surgery, our desire to perform flawlessly, is to everyone else the expectation of perfection. The expectation of non-surgical colleagues, patients and their families. The "drive-by" mentality, surgery "hot and now!" without fail or error. It is up to us as surgeons to educate everyone about the pitfalls that surgery can and cannot overcome. More now than ever, as our medical colleagues’ focus has changed from one of patient ownership to almost patient avoidance, as if each one is a mine to be avoided in an endless field of pending disasters, a ‘survive the shift and all is well’ mentality. The focus on shift work has irrevocably changed the practice of medicine. I remember a time not long ago, the perception that medical doctors had was to protect patients from surgeons. More often than not, that false perception has not only faded, but now the expectation is that the surgeon must intervene despite co-morbid conditions and contraindications. It is as if their thoughts are, ‘my shift will end and I survived, the case will fall to someone else’. So, it now behooves the surgeon to set the limits and you must acknowledge yours, not only with yourselves, but patients and their families, and with our colleagues as well. Regardless of your role as employed or independent, once you place knife to skin you assume a far greater bond than you may expect.
Do not be discouraged, or dissuaded from your path. My purpose is not to despair, but to prepare. For each of you will be an island of hope, grounded in foundations of your accomplishments. The knowledge you have accumulated, the skills you have demonstrated. Each of you will be challenged and pushed to, and sometimes it will seem beyond your limits. I am here to tell you, remain steadfast, but be prepared, and be rewarded.
Today, you are joining a family of colleagues, a group of like-minded individuals who want to see you succeed. Your success will give us pride. The kind that a parent sees in their children when the knowledge that is passed on is put to good use.
My personal opinion as we move forward, will be one of greater reliance on each other. Connections, the web of information and knowledge continues to educate you on your journey. Unfettered access to good and sometimes bad information must be carefully assimilated. You must maintain pace with your peers. You will need help, and you will give advice. The tenets that were passed on to you, the time spent imparting that knowledge you must use, you must hone, and most of all you must share. Else the knowledge is lost, wasted and must be relearned.
It doesn't take long to realize, the progression of surgery, is dependent on those that came before, and those that come after. So I say to you, new residents build a strong foundation and new members and fellows reach for high ground. Welcome to the college. Welcome to this family and thank you.”