Guest Post from Deborah L. Benzil, MD, FACS, FAANS
Member, AANS Board of Directors
Chair, AANS/CNS Communications and Public Relations Committee
Columbia University Medical Center
Mt Kisco, New York
I was recently exercising my dog in one of New York City’s lovely dog parks when a woman stopped me and asked if I was a neurosurgeon. I replied, “yes.” She then smiled and replied, “Thanks, we need more of you good people!” (before moving on with her adorable white pug). It was quite an encounter and left me intrigued. Maybe she was a subarachnoid bleed survivor, her aneurysm expertly coiled or clipped by one of the many talented cerebrovascular neurosurgeons. Perhaps she had been relieved of her excruciating back pain through a minimally invasive and innovative spine intervention. Alternatively, she could have had a child or grandchild who had been treated for hydrocephalus who now leads a normal productive life as a result. There are many other scenarios explaining why this woman stopped me completely out of the blue to say thanks. Regardless, it was a poignant reminder that there are many voices out there who recognize and appreciate the numerous ways neurosurgeons contribute to the health and well-being of many Americans. Too often we hear and see the voices of those that feel otherwise, but on this hot summer morning, I was informed that they are not the only opinions out there, perhaps just those that are less voiced.
So now, I will make a confession; this woman didn’t just look me in the eye and know intuitively that neurosurgery was my passion and chosen profession, I had given it away. I was wearing one of my organizational t-shirts! I had never really given this activity much thought before, but this day made me acutely aware that “marketing” is a crucial thing for all neurosurgeons to do. As a result of my dog park experience, I now wear my AANS t-shirts and CNS rain gear with great pride. It says to the world who I am and that I practice a profession that helps people, often at moments of enormous crisis for them and their families. I think this is a critical lesson for us all.