Like most people, I get all sorts of blogs with links that I find interesting (hopefully, this blog fits the description for you – it’s only once a month). One recent one noted that surgeons learn from online videos and the most common source is YouTube. I have to admit that I found this funny and worrisome at the same time, but only initially. Actually, in my professional journals, there are frequently video links and they often lead to the ubiquitous YouTube. So count me in, I guess. For surgery in particular, video is very valuable. If, as a surgeon, you did nothing new after you finished residency or fellowship, then you would be practicing 30 year old surgery by the time you finished your practice. That certainly is not optimal, but I do know some who do this. Part of surgery, and medicine in general, is teaching yourself because no one is going back to full time training.
So, what separates a responsible and competent surgeon from the man or woman who slept at a Holiday Inn last night. As with all things, judgement. It does not matter if it is surgery or nutrition or Brad and Angelina’s next baby, there is a tremendous volume of information on the web, you just have to judge what are reliable sources. For surgeons, that is usually evident – we know what looks right. The next decision, is it appropriate for my practice and my patients? For this part, I just remember the Golden Rule – would I do this for myself and family with confidence? This calculus is nothing new. Every time I go to a meeting (like the upcoming Aesthetic Society in Las Vegas), I make the same assessments about lectures (which now feature videos… maybe on YouTube) and products in the exhibits hall.
What about patients viewing Plastic Surgery related material online? I would say, even if the information is presented from a reliable source (I can always comment on that at a consult), there are a lot of ways to take care of the same problem and surgeons find what works best for themselves (in our own hands, as the saying goes). That is one of the reasons there are medical meetings – because even “experts” may have drastically different opinions. As for patient’s watching videos of their upcoming surgery, if it makes you feel more comfortable, great. Just know, I may not have stayed at the same Holiday Inn.
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Mark D. Wigod, MD, FACS, providing Cosmetic and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery to Boise, Meridian, Treasure Valley and Southeastern Idaho.