There are several problems with the comparison. Long-distance truck driving involves many hours of boring work. When driving a long distance on a straight interstate highway, most people have had the experience of realizing that they have just covered 10 miles and do not recall a thing about the scenery or the traffic. Except for taking off, landing and occasionally telling the passengers to fasten their seatbelts, flying a modern airliner can be equally boring. The planes fly themselves, hence the name “automatic pilot.”
Being a surgeon has no similarity whatsoever to piloting or driving. When a surgeon is on call for 24 hours, he rarely is awake the entire time. When he is, he is not doing monotonous, sleep-inducing tasks. For example, I might get a call at 2 a.m. to see a patient with appendicitis. I go to the hospital, examine the patient, schedule the surgery, perform the surgery and go back home. None of those activities is boring or repetitive.
Let’s say that while I am waiting for the operating room team to set up the case and have dictated my history and physical exam findings and written admitting orders, I have nothing to do. If I put my head down and take a 15 minute nap, no harm is done. This is not the case if a truck driver or pilot falls asleep on the job. Even if pilots are distracted by other things such as playing with their laptop computers and overflying their destination by 150 miles or receiving oral sex in the cockpit [no pun intended], the plane flies along without incident.
I suppose I am overstating the obvious, but neither of the two activities described above is possible while performing surgery.
So please, stop comparing surgeons to pilots and truck drivers.