Humility for happiness



I recently travelled abroad with a dynamic group of orthopaedic surgeons representing five nations. As these experiences are, it was an opportunity to connect with individuals from across the globe and learn different perspectives of practising the craft. I was moved by one of my colleagues’ recount of an experience operating in Japan. He described how, prior to every surgery conducted there, each member of the team in theatre, and the patient, repeat the phrase ‘yoroshiku onegaishimasu’. Directly translated this means ‘please care for me’. What I understood this to mean is that each team member is requesting the other members to hold them accountable for their actions, and to draw attention to potentially harmful or erroneous actions, including those of the surgeon. This struck me as curious; in an environment where, as surgeons, we are conditioned to be omniscient, Japan it seems has a tradition that deliberately challenges this. To me this is an ideal of surgical practice, a culture of humility.1

Author Biography

Megan O'Connor, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa