How Does an Engineer Cross Over into Surgery?

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One of the things that happens to you as an engineer is often you start doing management, and the more control you want over a project the more the tendency is to end up being managing that project. And I found myself at a point where I was managing people who were managing people, who were doing the things that had originally gotten me into engineering.

And I had this realization that I wasn't happy, and so I started doing a lot of soul searching. What did I want to do? How do I demote myself back to the person who's doing something? And not to say that managing isn't doing something, it's doing a lot of things. They just weren't things that I really enjoyed.

And so, I called some old friends of mine who who were in the medical industry, who were surgeons, and then I thought, maybe I can get back into some of that medical vice work I was doing back in college. And I went and I observed a case with a friend of mine who was a surgeon at the Mass general, and she was doing a fairly standard case, and then she said the next door they're doing an experimental case where they're deploying a new kind of arterial stent, and we can go in and observe the end of that procedure.

And we went in and observed the end of the procedure and the State deployment had failed, and they had converted to an open surgery, and they were completing the surgery. It's an early stent graft. And I tagged along and listened to some of the engineers talking to the surgeons, and I realized there was very little common language between these two groups.

And it seemed to me that the surgeons had ideas about how materials were working, but without an engineering understanding they didn't really understand it, and the engineers didn't understand the realities about the surgeons were facing in the interaction with the body. And that was really the start of me saying, you need to bridge both to be able to be effective, and that was when I first realized that maybe going to medical school would be the right thing to do if I wanted to get into the device world in medical devices.