Category Archive: surgery

A beloved mentor falls

I walk by the closed double doors and frosty windows of the ICU. You’re lying in there, intubated. It feels weird to go to work now. I can’t see you or talk to you, don’t know the drips, don’t know the plan … and it’s killing me. I, along with ma…

How urologists can be more sensitive to male patients

Most urology practices in the United States do not employ male nurses or assistants, even in larger cities. This is a serious problem because approximately 75 percent of urology patients are male. Often people wrongly assume that men don’t care a…

Are physician wellness programs just another checkbox?

Recently, I saw a photo of a slide from the American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress: “The Program Directors Guide to Implementation of Well-being Programs.” While I applaud the ongoing focus in medicine on wellness for both trainees and faculty,…

Why it’s important to determine who’s truly penicillin-allergic

A true allergic reaction is one of the most terrifying events in medicine. A child or adult who is highly allergic to bee stings or peanuts, for instance, can die within minutes without a life-saving epinephrine injection. But one of the most commonly …

There are moments as an anesthesiologist you can’t erase

There are moments as an anesthesiologist you can’t erase. No matter how long you go home and sleep, or how many days pass, you won’t forget it. All of these moments involve saying goodbye; while the scenarios change, the message is the same. It is sacr…

What I wish I knew on the residency interview trail

I still remember the warm, fuzzy feeling of receiving my first few interview invitations. Unlike medical school, I received much more “love” from residency programs. Since I was part of the inaugural class of a new medical school, I interviewed for a lot of programs: 16 anesthesiology, six transitional years, and three preliminary medicine programs. […]

Why physicians should embrace failure

Failure is a guarantee. “Success” assumes that certain metrics have been set and that the words used to describe those metrics are understood in the exact same way by all parties involved. One patient with parotid cancer and given facial paralysis after surgery was thrilled to be alive. Another is furious about a widened scar. […]

Antibiotics vs. surgery for appendicitis: what one surgeon thinks

Here are a few thoughts about the latest chapter in the never-ending debate about antibiotics vs. surgery for the treatment of uncomplicated appendicitis. You will recall the randomized controlled trial from Finland published in 2015 that found a 27% rate of failure of antibiotics within the first year. Now that the patients have now been followed for […]

Surprising and unlikely rewards of social media engagement by physicians

A guest column by the American Society of Anesthesiologists, exclusive to It is not uncommon for my patients and their family members to ask for my credentials at the end of our preoperative interview. Despite reaching my forties, my Asian genes have allowed me to maintain a youthful appearance – often causing apprehension about my claim […]

Live your life the best you can, and don’t spend it all in the hospital

If you have been following my writing, you know I have been out of the surgical workforce for a year and a half. I have settled into a much more relaxing lifestyle as an author who can set his own work schedule. This week I got a flashback of what my old life was like […]

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