JTO - June 2019
Volume 7 Issue 2
From the Executive Editor
Words. In many respects I am not cut out to be an Editor, as a left-handed spatially based thinker I was always attracted to books with more pictures than words. However, this editorial role involves actually reading the words and that I find has its rewards; rather like revising for an exam and finding for the first time that the subject matter is genuinely interesting. The headline words on the front cover relating sport to surgery may lead the unwary to visualise a particular stereotype of a surgeon. The reality described in Richard Dodds’ article (page 26) guides us away from this assumption. To achieve expertise in sport or surgery requires effort as well as ability; and progress in each field is often the result of attention to detail and marginal gains.
Words can obscure or illuminate. Strangely, it sometimes seems that excellence is not our objective; we train, examine and practice to a level of competence. It is quoted to us in lectures that not everyone can be above average; this creates an image of a bland, mediocre profession. This belies the objective in our training and working which is to achieve a level of general professional excellence, this is highlighted in the Trainee section (page 46). We expect more of ourselves as each year passes, just as in sport today’s average is yesterday’s excellent. Phil Turner in his President’s notes (page 5) speaks of ‘Core values’ and the how the BOA and others are involved in setting and advancing standards. He then cautions that individual pressures may ensue and that we have then to be prepared to honour the second half of the Association’s mission ‘Supporting Surgeons’. The sporting analogy now becomes rather stretched; this is not just a game.
Words can conjure a reality and ‘What if’ scenarios are common in teaching. In a practical specialty simulation is now becoming more sophisticated and Duncan Tennant in the first in a series on simulation (page 43) explores how this should benefit both patient and surgeon.
Caring for patients, supporting surgeons are words that are easy to say, and indeed define our job. What is more impressive is when they are played out not for direct reward but when it is just the right thing to do. The specialty section on the involvement of UK Orthopaedics abroad describes this (page 50). Whilst providing direct individual patient care has its appeal and benefits, it is the considered contribution to the development and maintenance of a system of training others to deliver that care which has the greater potential.
When we mix surgery with the law, words are not just describing the issues, they are often the very essence of the issue itself. They are tools we must learn to use. The medicolegal section (page 38) is a reminder that effective communication is based on clarity, lack of ambiguity and consistency. That communication then needs to be recorded. The initial action and its record not only define the caring clinical interaction but are also key to ensuring fair consideration if there should be later problems. We must care for ourselves to best support patients.
Bob Handley, Vice President Elect
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