William Funderburk MD

By MedStar Health

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General Surgeon

REFLECTIONS ON MEDICAL AND SOCIAL CHANGE

One of the greatest advances I've witnessed in my time at the Hospital Center is the improvement in diagnostic methods.

Better methods of imaging have helped house staff and attending physicians make critical diagnoses in consults, avoiding and reducing unnecessary complications and surgery.

We've moved from an era of hands-on diagnosis to current validation by imaging using advanced medical technologies such as CAT scans, MRI and other methods.

In the 1970s, for example, the rate of unnecessary appendectomies performed was as high as 25 percent on average. Today, it's less than 5 percent mostly because of advances in diagnostic technologies.

When it comes to breast cancer, a few decades ago the majority of surgeons believed there was no need at all for ancillary services. But now that's all changed for the better through the availability of numerous support groups and services that help patients have a much smoother post-operative recovery period than ever before.

As a minority surgeon, it took me 10 years to become a senior attending surgeon. Currently, it takes on average less than three years to become a senior attending depending on your skills and experience whether you are a minority or not.

In the operating room, there's much less tolerance for the volatile surgeon. There is no longer room for a surgeon to act in a demeaning or degrading way toward other health professionals.

Witnessing so many improvements and advances in both medicine and societal attitudes has been a rewarding and gratifying experience for me during my career at the Hospital Center. I'm so pleased to see that the present and future for all of our patients, physicians and staff is better and brighter than ever.