I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Nicole Bairossi who is a general surgeon in The Villages, Florida and is affiliated with Florida Hospital. Dr. Bairossi received her medical degree from Saba University School of Medicine and completed her residency at Spartanburg Regional Medical Center/Carolinas Medical Center. Continue reading below to gain a perspective into her life as a doctor!
Q. Why did you decide to go into medicine?
A. That’s a tough one. Well, I was always interested in medicine. My mom is a physical therapist, so I got some exposure to the field when I was younger. I knew when I was very little that I wanted to go to medical school and help improve people’s health.
Q. Why did you decide to go to medical school and not physician assistant school or nursing school?
A. I did consider physician assistant schools and I was actually going to do that because if I didn’t get into medical school at least I could have a job. But I then I decided to go the M.D. route. I think all of those careers are great though and there are so many opportunities with those occupations, but I just decided I wanted to be a doctor in the end.
Q. What are the most important qualities one should have while pursuing medicine?
A. The first quality is dedication. You have to be very dedicated to your patients and your craft. You also need to be dedicated to life-long learning. You need to constantly improve as a doctor and learn new things. The last few qualities that one needs is compassion, patience, and sacrifice. You have to be able to sacrifice a lot including family time with your spouse and kids.
Q. How do you balance your work, family, and hobbies?
A. For me personally, because my husband works, I have a nanny. I probably could not do it without her. For most female physicians, at least for me in a surgical specialty, we need help from others, so I have a nanny that helps take care of my daughter. My husband is very supportive as well. I think I gave up on my hobbies for right now and I’m hoping to get back into them later on in life. But I would say having a good support system is what helps me balance my job and my family. In my opinion, having family help or hiring somebody is the way you have to go to help balance everything.
Q. At what point in medical school did you decide to go into general surgery?
A. My very first medical rotation in medical school was obstetrics and gynecology. I loved the hands-on aspect of that specialty. I was pretty certain I was going to go into ob/gyn. I did my surgical rotation later on in medical school, but I just didn’t see myself in that role. But then I did an emergency room rotation and I found myself taking the surgical cases and suturing all the wounds. I came to realize that in surgery that I get to think fast on my feet and use my hands and I loved that. People present with a problem and we can fix it right away to make them better and help them with their suffering. So that’s why I chose general surgery in the end. I don’t really know what other specialties would have made me as happy.
Q. Do you wish you had chosen another specialty?
A. No, I might have chosen to do an extra year or two of fellowship and maybe homed in on a particular skill. I enjoy the variety of general surgery because I can treat everything from head to toe. I maybe would have done a laparoscopic robotic fellowship if I could go back in time, but I have no regrets at all. There’s nothing else that I would have liked to do. If I had lost my hands I don’t know what I would have done.
Q. What are some negative aspects of your job?
A. Some negative aspects of my job include not having a lot of control over your own time. You sometimes have to choose between taking care of your patients and taking care of your family. Unfortunately, you have to choose your patients a lot more over your family because you cannot predict your day. I think in some of the other specialties in medicine it is probably a little better. In surgery we have emergencies come up and complications we are not expecting. It can ruin your plans. Overall, the unpredictability of the schedule and the hours with being on call can be difficult. Oh, and it is actually kind of stressful what we do as surgeons. Some of these people are very sick and dealing with their families can be difficult. But overall my job is positive. I don’t want to deter you... stay in medicine!
Q. What is the best part of being a general surgeon? How can you walk out of the hospital every day and feel fulfilled?
A. I do not feel fulfilled walking out of work some days, but I think when I get to help someone through a difficult problem and they have a good outcome I feel extremely fulfilled. It is very rewarding when patients are grateful and as the doctor, you have made a difference with the surgery that you have performed. I enjoy diagnosing and fixing the patient’s problems to later see them walk out of the hospital or office door as a better person. That is probably the most rewarding aspect for me as a surgeon, but I think every specialty has their own rewards. But for surgeons, we get to see the result right after the surgery is performed and the result is usually a good one.
Q. If you could go back in time, what would you tell yourself as a pre-medical student?
A. Your undergraduate years and medical school years go by fast. Enjoy it while you can! You just have to remember to work really hard. You don’t have to be the smartest person in the group, you just need to be persistent and hard working. Don’t give up on your dreams!