Having a sister in medical school apparently qualifies Ms. Fitts to critique the specialty of surgery.
She starts with an old joke "An internist can figure out what’s wrong with you, but he can’t fix it. A surgeon has no idea what’s wrong with you, but he’s happy to fix it." If you read it carefully, you should note that it’s not that funny, and it’s wrong on both counts. No surgeon would ever fix something unless she knew why, and internists have these things called pills which can successfully treat a number of diseases.
She goes on, "After all, fixing problems is corporeal, often removed from the more intellectually nimble task of diagnosis." Apparently she is unaware that surgeons often make diagnoses—occasionally even correct ones, and I’ve written before about the misconception that doing an operation doesn’t require thinking [here and here].
"Surgeons are descended from the barber or the butcher," she says. That was hundreds of years ago. Nowadays, surgeons complete four years of medical school just like her sister and all the other doctors.
"Any missteps might incite devastating consequences, as the surgeon navigates around the vagus nerve, which dictates facial response…" I hope her sister didn’t give her that information. The vagus innervates many structures, but the face isn't one of them.
"Before anaesthesia and antibacterials, a patient undergoing surgery could be assured of two things: immense pain and the likelihood of infection and death." That’s actually three things. Of course without surgery, patients experienced immense pain, infections, and death anyway.
"Since the 1950s, laboratory science has increasingly been the origin of medical innovation. Which is why, over the past four decades, merely a 10th of the articles published in The New England Journal of Medicine have covered surgical innovation." Or maybe it's because The New England Journal is a medically, not surgically, oriented journal.
Here’s the winner. "Surgery’s place at the bottom of the medical hierarchy can be attributed to the crude cruelty of early surgical procedures." Other than Ms. Fitts, who has placed surgery at the bottom of the medical hierarchy? It’s certainly not US medical students who make the surgical specialties among the most competitive of all.
In the 2015 resident match, surgical specialties filled their first-year positions with 80% or more US medical school graduates. In fact, orthopedics matched with 94.3% US grads. Compare those numbers to internal medicine and family medicine, which filled their first-year positions with 49% and 44% US graduates, respectively.
Here's what Wikipedia has to say about its Aeon Magazine entry:
This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page.
The neutrality of this article is disputed.
This article contains content that is written like an advertisement.
This article contains weasel words: vague phrasing that often accompanies biased or unverifiable information.
That pretty much describes the Aeon essay about surgeons too.