Teachers and Trainers:
a rare and precious breed of surgeons
January 15th 2009, Airbus flight with 155 people on board took off from New York Airport. Just five minutes into the flight, it struck a flock of Canadian geese and lost all engine power. There were no options of turning around to get back to the airport. It could have risked all the passenger’s and New York residents’ lives on the ground.
Time was the essence and the pilot had to take a split-second decision.
Pilot Sully (Chesley Sullenberger) took a bold but correct split-second decision to keep gliding over the populated area with his failed engines and land his plane in Hudson river that he could see at some distance, in front.
The rest is history. All passengers survived.
The landing was described by NTSB (National transportation safety board) as “the most successful ditching in aviation history”. It became known as the “Miracle on the Hudson”.
Tom Hanks Hollywood movie star played the lead role of Sully in the movie bases in this real-life drama.
One may ask, how did Captain Sully pull it off? The answer is simple; he was not just an expert pilot he was a teacher and trainer as well.
Such situations are “once in a lifetime.”
This was his first encounter with such a dangerous and unexpected situation. Captain Sully had to take a decision and then implement it in the fraction of a second. His in-depth knowledge that had ingrained in his brain with several years of preparations, teachings, discussions and practice over the decades as a teacher and trainer came to his and his passengers’ and crew’s rescue.
Any other pilot might have panicked, tried to seek advice and think about his options in such a complex situation; with many lives are risk. It’s no brainer to predict the gloomy outcome of a flight in this scenario in the hands of an ordinary pilot!
“Miracle on Hudson” was made possible due to captain Sully’s practice and experience as a teacher and trainer in his field.
Surgery, operations and theatre environment can be similarly labile and challenging like flying. Split second decisions are required at times. Patient’s outcome, wellbeing and at times even life depends on these decisions.
A surgeon can never be too well prepared to deal with an unexpected ride in theatre. The best surgeons are at the cutting edge with latest knowledge, possible options/choices, trouble shooting that helps them to provide safe care to their patients.
Professor Amir Nisar believes that a “Teacher and Trainer surgeon” like captain Sully, practices various complex scenarios many times over while teaching and training. A teacher surgeon prepares for safe and ideal solutions when facing unexpected and complex scenarios. A trainer surgeon finds answers to the complexities and shares his expertise with other surgeons, thus reinforcing the thoughts in his own mind as well.
In short, a teacher and trainer surgeon is a well oiled machine who can not only perform simple surgeries safely but also shines in complex and complicated situations as he has the latest evidence based knowledge and skills at the tip of his fingers, at the forefront of his brain and within the DNA of his body.
80% of learning is outside the theatre prior to the surgery; like learning about the process, attending courses, teaching, training, simulation and box training.
Teaching and training takes a surgeon above and beyond the collective 100% mentioned above.
Professor Amir Nisar encourages his colleagues and teams to get involved teaching and training so that they can be many notches above the other surgeons.