In yesterday’s post, I talked about the educational requirements to become a plastic surgeon. (http://blog.drkim-com.drroykim.staging.wpengine.com/2010/08/what-are-the-educational-requirements-to-become-a-plastic-surgeon) Today, I’ll talk about what I feel to be some personality requirements needed to become a plastic surgeon.
I think that some intelligence with curiosity is a requirement to become a great plastic surgeon. IQ is needed to attain the grades necessary to complete your studies, but if you’re not curious, then you will have no desire to really push yourself and learn more to truly excel. You will also need to do CME, or continuing medical education credits throughout your entire career, as well as take re-certification exams every 10 years to maintain your board certification.
Another personality trait is the ability to work hard, yet creatively and efficiently. Hard work is not enough to succeed. There are only 24 hours in a day, and plastic surgery requires occasional sleep, so using your time efficiently is key to succeeding.
Plastic Surgery requires an attention to detail, and you actually develop a zen-like attitude towards surgery. When a chef walks into a busy kitchen, he or she can probably tell by the sounds, smells, and activity levels of the other chefs, exactly what is going on in terms of food preparation, cleanliness, and professionalism in that kitchen. The same goes for a good plastic surgeon- after talking to a patient, or after operating for a little while, he or she should be able to tell what’s going on in terms of surgical options, how the tissue is responding to surgery, what’s possible and what’s not possible, etc. The details come to the eye or the mind of a surgeon more quickly with experience and familiarity with a specific case.
Some artistic vision or skill is needed. I don’t know if you need a formal art degree, but having a good eye, and being able to deal with skin, soft tissue, bone, and other materials that mimic the human body, such as dermal fillers, breast implants, etc., all help to make a good plastic surgeon.
Of course, plastic surgeons operate on actual people, so people skills are very important. Listening to people is the key to developing a good relationship and a good plan for surgery. Some problems do NOT need surgery, so it’s important to find out what the patient wants. The ability to socialize and deal with people and their expectations are critical to success in plastic surgery.
Although the human body is not a machine, it is an incredible work of art and genius. Sometimes, despite the best surgical care, overall excellent health, and great patient care from the patient, the human body won’t heal as well as you would like. The key is to understand that, in the end, your body will want to do what it wants to do.
I hope this article gives you a superficial glimpse into some of the personality and psychological aspects of becoming a plastic surgeon. I’m sure I’ve left out some traits- please feel free to leave a comment below.