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Surgical Reminiscence
December 2000

The Qualities of a Successful Surgeon

Author Affiliations

Copyright 2000 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.2000

Arch Surg. 2000;135(12):1477. doi:10.1001/archsurg.135.12.1477

A SHORT while ago, I was asked to speak at the funeral service of a close friend, a general surgeon. In preparing my remarks, I began to think about the characteristics of an ideal general surgeon, and I identified 10 desirable traits.

The surgeon should be interested in other people. Patients respond best to surgeons who treat them as human beings. The martinet who feels superior to everyone else invites trouble, both from patients and from colleagues.

The surgeon must be well informed about the anatomy, physiology, pathology, and pharmacology of surgical disease. Understanding the scientific basis for an operation separates the surgeon from the skilled technician.