What inspired you to become a doctor and more specifically a surgeon?
I grew up in a very medical oriented family. As the youngest child, watching all my siblings and cousins be involved in different aspects of medicine was fabulous. At times I even had the opportunity to shadow them in medical offices, clinics, hospitals and even operating rooms and watch them at work. Wanting to save people’s lives and have this degree of skill and knowledge was what drove me into medicine. It was a quick transition in to surgery from there. Being in medical school for 8 years, which is a normal pathway for any medical student in my home country (Iran), made me 100% confident that this was what I wanted to pursue. Since starting my surgical training and more specifically since becoming an attending surgeon, there hasn’t been a single case or operation I haven’t enjoyed.
From your experience, what would you say are the main positive aspects and the most negative aspects of practising in the US?
The most positive aspect of practising medicine in the United States is having access to the most updated technology, knowledge, large resources and unlimited supply and equipment in your medical field. That really gives physicians peace of mind, you don’t have to worry about anything and can focus solely on patient care – in my field I can walk out of the operating room feeling entirely satisfied with the procedure.
The most negative aspect of working in the US is spending/wasting a lot of time with unnecessary paper work, and watching legal aspects and lawyers and legal communities which are waiting to make money from physicians. The other negative is significant overhead expenses which make physicians’ work much harder in order to be able to cover those. Finally, people’s appreciation for the work we do is generally not high at all.
What is your opinion on access to healthcare services in the US, in comparison to what some countries (for example the UK with the National Health Service – NHS) offer to their population?
I think US access to medical services, like everything else which is capitalism driven in the US, is based on market and capital availability. However, some other countries such as the UK, with more socialised medicine, have equal access to healthcare for different levels of the population but perhaps with delays and government control.
Some countries (for example Spain and France) have automatic organ donor registration, where everyone is considered to want to donate their organs in the event of brain or cardiac death unless they opt out. As a surgeon, what’s your opinion on this matter? Should automatic organ donor registration be a global standard?
I really don’t like the idea. I think it should be the opposite, meaning everyone is not a donor by default, unless proven otherwise. I believe our population is not sufficiently educated to be able to understand the consequences and consider whether they should opt out.
In your opinion, what is the future of surgery? Do you see technology as a big part of it?
Like other aspects of science and industry, I think technology will be the first language of surgery in the future. Just think about the car industry – it really does not matter who makes a better car these days, what matters is who has the best software and puts more technology in a car. With minimally invasive surgery, robotic and endoscopic surgery is not possible nowadays without having a super high degree of access and joining the surgeon’s own knowledge with technology. The surgical world has gone beyond the time that a surgeon needed just a knife, haemostat and stitch.