Leaving clinical practice behind was probably the hardest decision that I have ever made in my life. By the time I made the decision I had spent 6 years in medical school and another 9 post-graduate years in training. That’s a total of 15 years of blood, sweat and tears to get to where I was in my career.
I have to admit, when we first started Touch Surgery, I never imagined in my wildest dreams that it would lead to me taking a step back from the profession that I loved. I loved meeting and treating patients, and making a real difference to their lives.
When it came down to it, the choice centred around the difference that I could make to patients. As a surgeon, I knew that I could affect the lives of potentially thousands of patients. By treating patients physically with my hands, I could only improve the lives of the patients that I physically touched. By working on Touch Surgery, I had already seen how I was affecting the practice of potentially hundreds of thousands of frontline surgical healthcare workers, and by proxy also affecting the millions of patients that they were treating. The positive impact that Touch Surgery could have was far greater than any potential impact I could make as a practicing surgeon – and that’s why I made the switch to start working full time on Touch Surgery.
Our mission is to empower and connect the global surgical community with the aim of improving global healthcare. Touch Surgery is a mobile surgical platform that allows surgeons from around the world to learn, practice and rehearse surgery through interactive surgical maps. Each map is created by surgical experts from around the world, from places like Stanford, Johns Hopkins and Imperial College London, providing the highest quality surgical education to the global surgical community. Through improved education and the tools to allow pre-operative rehearsal and planning, we help surgeons to ready themselves to perform at their best in the operating room.
Now that I’m fully dedicated to Touch Surgery, I realise that I have not left medicine or research behind at all. I am fully immersed in surgical procedures every single day, and now we have to maintain the highest levels of quality in demonstrating those procedures, as we have a responsibility to teach hundreds of thousands of people around the world. I know more about surgical procedures now than I would ever have come across in my clinical practice. I have travelled and met with leading surgical educators from around the world, collaborating with a network that I would never have had the chance to meet in the past. In terms of the research, we are now in the middle of an academic program that has the potential to actually impact practice, which is something that unfortunately a lot of my past research had failed to do.
Looking back at my decision I can say that I absolutely have no regrets. Of course I miss directly interacting with patients and colleagues in hospitals, but I know that the mission we have at Touch Surgery can achieve something on a scale that I could never had done in my past life.
I’m Andre Chow and I gave up surgery so I can help more people.