- Open Access
The dual role of academic surgeons as clinicians and researchers - an attempt to square the circle?
© Huber-Lang and Neugebauer; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2011
- Received: 8 June 2011
- Accepted: 22 June 2011
- Published: 22 June 2011
In the past experimental and clinical research efforts in surgery have been considered the "golden key" for understanding the underlying pathomechanisms of surgical diseases, for successful development of surgical techniques, improved patients quality of life and beneficial clinical outcome. Furthermore, scientific findings and evidence based behaviour represented the basis for the management of patients undergoing surgical procedures accompanied with an increased patient's safety in surgery.
However, in our days of "limited time and financial resources", combining the clinical and research challenges on a necessary high level of quality seems to be more and more challenging, possibly jeopardizing patient's safety in the future.
During the middle ages a large discrepancy already existed in terms of content and personnel between the profession of surgery (from old french: "serurgien, cirurgien", from latin: "chirurgia" = "working or done by hand") and research (from old french "recercher" = "seek out, search closely"), and accordingly science (scientia = "knowledge"). Currently, both clinicians and researchers in daily routine often also question the compatibility of surgery and research, and sometimes describe this as a "squaring of the circle", in the sense of a metaphor that is unsolvable. If in particular the young surgical researcher is given the impression that this is a realistic picture, or has in reality scarcely experienced state-of-the-art clinics combined with profound research efforts, they will already be discouraged at an early stage from long-term research. Consequently, young surgeons will almost completely concentrate on their clinical performance and training. Furthermore, those who are interested in surgical research experience an increasing division between clinically relevant hypotheses generated from daily surgical care and the rapidly emerging more and more complex scientific methodology. Occasionally, it is even observed at a linguistic level that there is a big difference between "surgery and research". Therefore, the question inevitably arises, whether our interdisciplinary and internationally closely-networked world would also in the future need a "research surgeon" and/or a "surgical researcher"?
A modified article of this manuscript in the german language will be published in the Festschrift der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Chirurgie (50 years of surgical research in germany - quo vadis?) by Kadenverlag Publishers Heidelberg 2011
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