Monday, April 9, 2012

Behind the Scenes: A Look Into The Life Of A Trauma Surgeon

Dr. Marc Kross, surgeon-in-chief,
Meritus Medical Center Trauma Services
It takes a special kind of person to commit to life as a trauma surgeon.

Consider this job description: You must like long and irregular hours. You must be willing to work weekends and holidays. You carry around a pager that is constantly buzzing. You must be able to diagnose and manage extremely complex injuries while a patient’s life is hanging in the balance. You have to be prepared to deal with any kind of injury ranging from gunshot wounds, to stabbings, to multiple rib fractures, to blunt force trauma. Oh, and before you can even take on this job you must go through four years of medical school, a five year general surgery residency, and a two-year trauma surgery or critical care fellowship.

Wow, and I thought my job was tough!

It’s no surprise that most physicians leave the trauma field after just ten years.

But for those who devote their lives to trauma surgery it can be very rewarding. As a Meritus Medical Center trauma surgeon and surgeon-in-chief of the trauma department, Dr. Marc Kross understands how to repair organs and tissue when they are suddenly injured. “I like the challenge of restoring the patient back to his normal lifestyle,” he said.

Although trauma surgeons need to move quickly and make snap decisions, Dr. Kross says that they still need to have feelings. “To be a good trauma surgeon, you must have compassion for those whose lives have been dramatically altered in a split second.”

Karl Riggle, medical director of the trauma program, used to be “continually worried that someone would get hurt and there wouldn’t be a place to care for the patient.” After all, “there’s a mountain between us and the big cities.”

He hasn’t had to deal with that worry since January 2, 1980, when Meritus Medical Center first became designated as a trauma center. Now, in 2012, the Meritus Medical Center trauma center is the place accepting severely injured patients from other hospitals in the region.

By Shawn McNally

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