One of the attendings, explaining his decision to hire a female partner, remarked, “Women make better surgeons, honestly. They have more natural dexterity.”

All the women in the room waited for the inevitable other half of the comment.

After a pause, he continued, “The only thing is, they can’t concentrate. Guys, when they’re doing something, think only about that one thing. Women, their minds are all over the place. When we operate, we’re not thinking about the laundry that needs to be done, what we’re going to have for dinner, what to do with our hair, and so on.” Laughs all around.

So I’ve been trying to analyze ever since my concentration in the OR – which of course is impossible. My conclusion is, that I do multitask all the time. Dinner figures in, but there’s also which patients need to be checked on before I leave, which labs need to be reordered for the morning, which consultants I need to talk to. On the other hand, I do think that when we get down real surgery – actually cutting and sewing, not just looking at things (and especially me not just retracting and daydreaming) – I don’t think about much else. I do continue to notice what anesthesia is doing, and what the vital signs are, which I guess the men don’t. Most of the attendings don’t know what anesthesia is doing unless the CRNA or I tell them, and they do seem to get upset by any evidence that I’m looking at anything in the room besides the operating field. (I know, you’re not supposed to take your eyes off the instruments, or you could lose the structures.)

Comments or further observations?

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