Frederick L. Greene, MD, FACS
Clinical Professor of Surgery
UNC School of Medicine
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
The term blog is a contraction of “Web log” in which one or more individuals record their thoughts, ideas or concepts in an Internet-based format and solicit interaction with others of like mind who have an interest in the ideas espoused by the “blogger.” Blogs run the gamut of subject matter: professions, religions, ideologies, politics and most any subject that has been deemed important by at least one interested chronicler. Although I admit to only being tempted by a few medically related blogs, the advent of a blog especially for surgeons has truly caught my interest.
The blog, Surgeons’ Gyre (surgeonsgyre.com) has recently appeared, and rather than just being a repository for recent surgical research, surgical organization topics or other mundane information, it delves into the heart, spirit and emotions of all of us who have chosen surgical careers. The concepts presented emulate and resonate with the daily conflicts that we experience in and out of the hospital setting. Given the modern pressures that affect all surgeons, this blog and its subject matter allows for reflection on issues that may not even be explored in surgeons’ lounge banter.
A blog name should reflect and anticipate the overall concept created. In this case, the Surgeons’ Gyre is well named. The term gyre in the oceanographic lexicon relates to a large system of rotating ocean currents associated with undulating and ever-changing wind patterns. Additionally, gyre may refer to a vortex in the air or sea, even one that is man-made.
For us as surgeons, we continue to face economic, political, ethical and emotional forces that continuously change direction and are unrelenting and uncontrolled even by our collective surgical force. These “winds of change” have occurred without our individual or collective influence and create additional stresses unknown to our surgical brethren of the past who had a better opportunity for autonomy and individual decision making. Concepts of hospital-based employment, involvement in federally mandated health initiatives, public reporting of payments and outcomes, mandatory hospital-based electronic health charting and stultifying multilayered administrative health care institutions have caused us to seek occasional respite in nontraditional sites.
As the Surgeons’ Gyre states, “these times beg for reflection and for creative responses to the challenges of providing surgical care in changing circumstances.” This surgical interface offers “a place of restoration of self, of ideals, of professional identity.” The opportunities to find such respite and to have meaningful dialogue are few and far between. An additional goal of the Surgeons’ Gyre is “to facilitate deriving solutions that enhance the integrity of the guild and bring us into closer alignment with the core values that inspired our arduous journey to the practice of surgery.”
The advent of social media and Internet-based communication opportunities has been a double-edged sword. Many of you, as I, tend to eschew these outlets as further intruding on our valuable time. I assure you the Surgeons’ Gyre does not fit into this genre. It is a medium that you will enjoy and find stimulating and refreshing as you experience the exigencies of contemporary surgical practice. Open the Surgeons’ Gyre and be engulfed by its vortex.