By Omri Ayalon, MD
Repetition and focus leads to greater comfort, and generally, better results. In reflecting on the first 5 years of my practice, this is true of the surgical procedures I perform, my ability to effectively communicate with patients, and my ability to run an efficient practice and manage a team. This was all welcomed and somewhat expected, as they were concrete goals of mine when I started practice. I did not, however, foresee this same type of growth with respect to the mentoring of fellows and residents.
I have always cherished being involved in the formal training of hand surgery fellows and orthopedic residents at NYU, in the operating room, office, anatomy lab, and conference settings. The first few years of practice are inwardly focused; I focused on building a practice, making my own way, and completing all the tasks required to the best of my ability, meeting the highest standards. Although this focus remains, I’ve had more opportunity recently to expand my reach as well. Gradually, and organically, the fellows have started to seek advice about issues beyond hand surgery: practice management, work-life balance, how to deal with the looming “end of your training and beginning your practice.” I often feel like I’m still just beginning to figure it out myself, and the thought, “why the heck are you asking me?!” goes through my head from time to time. Though, I also realize I do have some helpful insight to offer: how to balance having a newborn during fellowship, how to learn billing, how to map out an efficient schedule, how to measure success, etc.
In the OR, office, and clinic, fellows and residents keep me honest, and keep me on my game in the best of ways. Their questions and suggestions are encouraged and foster critical thinking – a necessity in this field. Thus, I have become more thoughtful and deliberate about mentorship. I now realize what a large impact my mentors have had and continue to have on shaping my ideals, and how I relate to patients and practice. I plan to continue to grow as a mentor, to put in the “10,000 hours” on this front as well. At this moment in my career, I have much ahead of me that I hope to accomplish. However, I am learning that the outwardly focused experiences are the truly enriching ones.
Omri Ayalon, MD
Orthopedic Hand and Upper Extremity Surgery
Assistant Clinical Professor
NYU Langone Medical Center
Co-Director, Center for Amputation Reconstruction at NYU