View from a surgeon: Time management

View from a surgeon: Time management

I’m a surgeon. Simple. Operating is what I do, and hopefully I do it rather well. The two things I am not allowed to do by my staff are booking operations or changing operating lists.

Why? I hear you ask. I shall tell you, I say.

Let’s start with booking patients for surgery. I have 45 minutes spare on Monday. It takes me 45 minutes to do a Breast augmentation. Therefore I should be able to fit in young Jane Smith I saw today who is desperate to have her breasts augmented before her graduation next month. Yes? NO!

My lists are booked with precision because I don’t book them. My staff know exactly how long it takes for me to operate for every procedure I do, and they ensure that 15 minutes is added to every case for theatre changeover.

If I start booking my own lists, I will start “squeezing in” cases, because I will panic about letting people down, ending up with a waiting list that is huge and  hospital managers on my case.

I know that my lists will be perfectly timed and booked and so I am relaxed about every list. There is nothing worse than looking down a list of patients and thinking “I’ll never finish that by 5:30!” It stresses me out, and I know that any patient would prefer a relaxed, stress-free surgeon than one who is stressed and rushing through the list. That’s when mistakes happen. It’s when things go wrong. So in the long term, it costs more time.

Let your secretary deal with booking patients. He or she is much better at it than you. You just need to simply be a good doctor.

Management? You can only do what you can only do. They have their own pressures from even higher echelons of management and under management and executives and CEO’s and Board of Directors – the list is endless. Maybe that’s why the NHS costs so much, but that’s a blog for another day.

Concentrate on what you are good at. Be a doctor.

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