Review: Career Paths for Surgical Learning

The path to learning surgery is a long and challenging one. True success requires years of dedication and the passion to consistently learn from every case and evolve your technique every year. We have previously discussed the learning curve and even given a sample learning grid of cataract surgery steps during residency.

In my quest to learn more about cataract surgery every week, I frequently follow the teaching of many international experts. I enjoy watching the live streaming done by Lukan Mishev MD and the pearls of wisdom from Professor Milton Yogi.

Recently, I saw this graph posted by Dr Yogi and since he is Brazilian, it is in Portugese.

I have used this as a basis for making a similar graph in English.

This graph shows three paths in becoming a surgeon:

  • The blue line is the young doctor who cannot find the drive to push past the frustration barrier to become an ophthalmic surgeon. As such, this doctor will drop out of medicine, switch to a different medical specialty, or choose to be a medical ophthalmologist who does not perform surgery. Fortunately, this is a rare occurrence.
  • The red line is the surgeon who is able to get past the frustration barrier and become a competent surgeon. But the passion and the drive to be better and better, simply is not there. This doctor will be stuck in this zone of mediocrity forever and will simply do the techniques that were learned back in residency training.
  • The green line is the expert surgeon who has the drive and determination to learn from every single case and consistently evolve surgical techniques over the years. This surgeon embraces the very difficult cases and prepares diligently for them. This surgeon has the passion to be the best and will maintain that passion for decades. This is the true expert.

When it comes time for me to have surgery, be it cataract surgery, orthopedic surgery, or cardiac surgery, I want a true expert who has the passion to be the best. I’m sure you feel the same.

Click below to learn more about this critically important topic from the video: