This week, I realized a dream of mine—I started performing robotic surgery!😍 I’ve been wanting train in robotic surgery since the very first time I saw Jeffrey F. Hines, MD performing robot-assisted cases in 2011. Sadly, at that time, my training hospital did not have a robot— or even great laparoscopic equipment for that matter, so I didn’t get a lot of laparoscopic experience until I got into practice.
After completing my residency training, I chose a job at a site that had a robot and a talented GYN surgeon, thinking I would be treated like a colleague, trained and mentored by this individual. Unfortunately, that wasn’t how it turned out. Instead, that individual said and did things that I allowed to damage to my confindence in myself as a physician and surgeon.
When I moved on from that toxic environment, regaining my confidence and acquiring strong mentorship as a newly minted OBGYN were at the top of my to do list! I had been very well-trained and had done every case available to me during my residency—sometime driving over an hour to scrub into cases with community surgeons all over Atlanta. Thankfully, my next move yielded a wonderful Dept chair who took me under his wing and mentored me and came to all my surgeries. I attended every minimally invasive GYN surgery course I could find, I bought a pelvic surgery simulator, and I practiced relentlessly until I mastered each laparoscopic skill.
After 4 years, I moved to an institution with a robotic surgery program and another great Dept Chair, who invited me to train in robotics!
After months of simulation training and passing all of my courses, I performed my first 3 robotic surgeries yesterday, and I LOVED IT!!! My first case was a pretty large uterus with a lot of fibroids—I was feeling really intimidated, but my trainer and my proctor (a person who basically oversees my first cases and makes sure I am operating safely) didn’t say a word about the size of the uterus, even though it was much bigger than the imaging study originally led me to believe. I was so tempted to go back to straight-stick laparoscopy—what was most comfortable for me, but I refused to go back to my comfort zone without at least giving my best try, and so, I docked the robotic arms just as I had practiced time and time again. I sat down at the console, I envisioned completing the case safely and successfully. Then…I DID that case!! And it was faster and easier than if I would have gone back to straight-stick laparoscopic surgery! I was completely amazed that I did it so quickly and smoothly. Then I did another complicated case and finally to end the day, a straightforward one. At the end of the day, my proctor, who has done hundreds of these cases said to me “you made these cases look easy. There is pretty much nothing different I would have done.”
I was on cloud 9!! I praised God all the way home for allowing me to realize this dream, but also for how He has restored my confidence in my ability to do precisely what I believe he put me here on earth to do— to care for women throughout their lifetime compassionately and excellently. I am in awe of all the honor he bestows on me in trusting me to care for his most precious creations.
Looking at the size of the uterus in the first case was SOO intimidating that I was tempted to back out. But then I remembered my favorite Bible character, the Dahveed Israel and Judah (King David), when he faced Goliath and MANY other challenges. He wrote “when I am afraid, I will trust in you.” He RAN out to meet the challenges courageously, even in the midst of fear. I determined to do that as well. I said a silent prayer, slipped off my shoes, and sat down at the surgeon’s console and got started.
God blesses what we DO. In order for him to bless our efforts, we have to MAKE THE EFFORT first—even when we are afraid or intimidated by the scope of our dream.
I was so encouraged by the surgery outcomes and by the lessons of this day! I hope you will be encouraged to trust God’s timing, to pursue the dreams he gives you, and NOT to run from the Giants that seem to guard the territory that YOU know you are to possess!