- What are the indications for surgery?
- What kind of operation are you planning with what approach?
- If different (open, endovascular, or hybrid) approach is preferred by you, please briefly elaborate. If not, explain why?
- What are the anticipated risks, recovery, and followup?
I started having my trainees (yes, you) email me answers to these questions for an upcoming case and it has been working pretty well. This starts a conversation. This exercise gives the trainee time to think about their plan, do some reading, ask questions, and anticipate outcomes so that an unexpected one would be rare. It also gives me a record of a meaningful interaction so that later assessments don’t devolve into flash judgment, gut feeling, first impressions, or recall of latest misdemeanors.
Not infrequently, I have trainees whose opinions differ from mine, but they base their arguments on solid evidence and clinical findings specific to the patient and not just the general topic. They express a nuanced understanding of that particular case and bring in fresh perspectives from their diverse backgrounds and education. I think to myself how honored I am to have such hard working, brilliant minds to teach; I make sure to tell them how absolutely wrong they are.