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    5 tips to enhance the surgical experience

    Dr. LamCharlene Lam, M.D., M.P.H., who spoke on “Simple Tricks and Practical Tips to Optimize the Surgical Experience for You and Your Patients,” at the 2017 American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) Annual Meeting in Orlando, Fla., says she identified a need for this talk during her first year of dermatology practice.

    Dr. Lam, a Mohs surgeon and assistant professor of dermatology, Penn State College of Medicine, in Hershey, Penn., says the early years in the specialty come with a steep learning curve and often shape how dermatologists practice. She learned tips and tricks for making surgical life better from others, including Elizabeth M. Billingsley, M.D., professor of dermatology and director of Mohs micrographic surgery at Penn State, who directed today’s panel discussion.

    Drs. Lam and Billingsley offer five of their top tricks and tips for optimizing the surgical experience for dermatologists and their patients.

    1. Check in.

    Dr. BillingsleyCall your patient the night of surgery,” Dr. Billingsley says. “This allows you to check in on any post-operative pain, reassure them, review post-op instructions and answer any questions that they may have and are hesitant to call about. Patients appreciate this immensely. This also makes for a good night of sleep for both patients and you!”

    1. Small, calming touches

    Dr. Lam calls it, “ambience of surgery.”

    “I am not referring to anything fancy or expensive,” Dr. Lam says. “We have one decorative fluorescent light cover of a blue sky and trees in our procedure rooms, so that when patients lay back, they can focus on it. Patients comment daily on how nice and relaxing it is for them.”

    1. Dermatologists, make yourselves comfortable

    Dr. Lam says it’s important that surgeons get comfortable in a way that is conducive for good posture.

    “No matter how long or short you think the procedure will be.  This will prevent mistakes and improve your career longevity,” Dr. Lam says.

    1. A postsurgery goody bag? Yes.

    “Give patients a goody bag with wound care supplies,” Dr. Billingsley says. “This is a very simple and inexpensive gesture that patients appreciate. Most patients may not have adequate wound care supplies at home, and may not want to stop at a pharmacy after a surgical procedure. A small bag with gauze, tape, cotton tipped applicators and petrolatum can easily get them through the first few postoperative days.”

    1. A little patience goes a long way

    “Time is your best friend,” Dr. Lam says. “As a young surgeon, my tendency is to want to fix everything right now to make it ‘better.’ However, revisions may be unnecessary with time.”



    Lisette Hilton
    Lisette Hilton is president of Words Come Alive, based in Boca Raton, Florida.


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