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Thank You To Dr. Tom Grossman

By Orvis H. Chitwood, III, MD

Throughout the years of practice, both in the military and in the civilian world, I have encountered many individuals who have helped to shape my career and my character through either their guidance, actions or example. There is one individual who stands out among all the others.

That person was Tom Grossman MD, my Chief Resident when I was a first year Orthopaedic resident (pgy2). Tom was different in that he was a prior service Naval officer who went into medicine as a second career. His maturity served him well in handling the politics and nuances of a teaching hospital. One particular night on call we were waiting (what seemed like forever) to do an emergency case and like most teaching hospitals things were not moving quickly enough, especially for me. Being young and admittedly a bit of a hot head, I was starting to spin out of control at the seemingly endless list of things the anesthesia residents were doing before the patient could go to the room. At one point Tom took me aside and told me something that has served me well through many years of dealing with operating room inefficiencies.  He said, “You can run around and yell and stomp your feet and they won’t move one bit faster, or you can sit here quietly where they can see you and let them subtly know that they are the roadblock to care for this patient.”  Those words hit home almost instantly. I began to notice how the physicians who carried on and acted like children rarely got any significantly better service while Tom’s tactic translated my experience to a much more efficient one. To this day I still use this tactic to let people in the OR know that they are not waiting on me. It is amazingly effective!

Eventually I met the perfect partner in life who happens to be an OR nurse (surprise right?!). One of the things she told me she liked about me was that I never raised my voice in the OR nor belittled anyone or tried to act like everyone there was there just to serve me. Our time in the OR is made possible through teamwork between all involved. I recommend every surgeon take heed of Tom’s advice. Be mature. Act like a respectable adult and never look down your nose at anyone. Hopefully this advice will serve others as well as it has served me through a long and successful career!


Very respectfully,
O H Chitwood MD

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