Confessions of a Surgeon

Confessions of a Surgeon

The Good, the Bad and the Complicated…Life Behind the O.R. Doors

by Paul A. Ruggieri, M.D.

5 Stars!


Dr. Ruggieri is a human doctor – a general surgeon.  I found everything he said about his training and career fascinating.

As veterinarians, our training roughly parallels the training of M.D.’s until after veterinary/medical school.  Then we are let loose on the world and M.D.’s continue their training with internships, residencies and often further training.  A “finished” M.D. more resembles a veterinary specialist than a veterinary general practitioner.

Even so, as a general veterinary practitioner who does surgery, I related to some of the scary/exciting/rewarding tales of O.R. events, to the struggles of client communication, to how every surgery shapes you as a doctor, to the bonding with families and the grief over loss.

We deal with pets, also family members, but Dr. Ruggieri deals with people, human family members – spouses of several decades, children, grandparents…  I cannot imagine the gravity of having a human life in my hands, and often wonder how much more stressful it would be and if I would have had the fortitude to train and practice on that level.  I do not think that I would.

If by some chance I DID have the fortitude, and I got through the YEARS of training and YEARS of experience, and ended up in the surgery Dr. Ruggieri described in one of his first tellings (I will not describe it here – Some of you put your sandwich down and glare at me if I say “cat abscess.”  Geez.)  ANYWAYS, I think even if I could have and did reach that point, I would not say, “I just bought these shoes!”  I would say, “I think I am going to  be a writer!” and walk out of the O.R. and never look back.

This book is not gross.  (That story was, but it was also fascinating).

Subjects I barely have to consider – lawsuits, health insurance (MUCH different and more straight forward in the veterinary world!), following cases for years – loom around every case for Dr. Ruggieri.  The stress has to be wearing, but it seems as though the author balances the salary, the unique brand of excitement and career satisfaction inherent in being a surgeon and the chance to save lives with those very real, very prominent challenges.

Dr. Ruggieri is a highly trained, exceptional surgeon, but he is also filled with compassion.  I have trouble not calling a puppy by name as I spay her.  He has trouble not seeing a patient in pre-term crisis as a Mom of a grown family years down the road.  But he goes into surgical mode, gloves up and saves lives.  Daily.  Just reading it exhausted me.  And the stories are SO good.

Omaha has two veterinary surgical specialists, both excellent.  I scrub in on every surgery of Dr. Merkley’s that I can.  I read every surgical report Dr. Thoesen sends over.  I LOVE being around surgery.  I LOVE having completed a cool surgery.  I do not love being in surgery.  So for me, this book was perfect.  I could be in the O.R., imagine I was handing over gauze sponges, and be right in the middle of every case.

I think as a medical professional, or even more as a lay person – you will love this book.

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply