2007 Scholarship Recipient

Byron D. Patton, MD, 2008

Byron Patton, MD

Byron D. Patton's Winning Essay

The operating room is stark and bright, designed to illuminate every corner of the body on the table below. This sterile setting is the theatre where the surgeon performs complex technical skills, maneuvering through countless procedures. Every aspect of the environment is controlled allowing the surgeon to exercise patience, knowledge and unflinching resolve. The patient is present but it is easy to forget that a heart beats just below the knife.

This heart beat reminds me of the patients I have seen come and go over the past year. But I do not remember them for the intricacies of their surgeries or the anatomic oddities they may possess. I remember their laughs and smiles, their hopes and fears and their overflowing gratitude. Outside and operating room, a surgeon must connect with the patient by displaying an entirely different set of skills; compassion, integrity, kindness and respect.

As a surgeon, I will have the privilege of changing the course of a person's life by directly intervening with my hands and mind. There is a great deal of power in this privilege but there is also humility in knowing the limits of our science and the unending complexity of the human body. However, in order to succeed, I will need to use skills from both sets. Success can only be achieved when the scalpel and the willingness to listen are combined in order to reveal every aspect of every patient. And, above all, I will strive to never forget the human beneath the drape or the beating heart just under the sharpened blade.

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