A few years ago, I had an altercation with the stone steps that lead from the Quad to Longwood Avenue. I’m not sure I should admit that they won, but I can tell you that I was left with a knee broken in multiple places—and an appointment with a surgeon. Fortunately for me, the fractures were tended to, and I set about mending and regaining my mobility.
As noted in this issue of Harvard Medicine, I may not have been so fortunate had I lived in a country with fewer talented orthopedic surgeons or a dearth of facilities with basic tools to ensure safe surgeries.
In his 2012 article in the New England Journal of Medicine, Atul Gawande ’94 noted that people living in the United States may have up to seven surgical interventions over a lifetime. Yet, as our article on the global need for surgical care indicates, nine out of ten people living in less economically advantaged nations will likely have none, given that they are altogether without access to surgical care.
Training new surgeons who will continue to fill the pipeline here and abroad is a responsibility we take seriously at HMS, as evidenced in our article on how making a surgeon requires both practice and community. Ensuring that technical innovation improves patient outcomes and the care for the whole person is also a priority, as our look at surgery and body image attests. In addition, the power that a diverse cadre of surgeons can have in advancing the profession is highlighted in essays by three of our alumnae.
This School is a fantastic incubator in each of these areas: medical education, biomedical research, and clinical practice, and for nine years I have been responsible for ensuring its position as a wellspring of progress and promise. As many of you know, I will soon be handing this responsibility to another. While I look forward to pursuing my interests in research and public policy, there are some things I will miss—like getting to introduce you to each issue of Harvard Medicine. I will, however, remain a reader, and, like you, will look forward to the arrival of each new issue.
Image: John Soares