“Believe in your strengths and share your passion with the world!” – Prof. Dr. Elvira Bratila
When did you decide to get involved in robotic surgery? What was the trigger for this decision?
I started robotic surgery four years ago. Following the global trend, which since then has been moving towards minimally invasive surgery, less traumatic and with benefits for both the surgeon and patient, I looked at this new approach very inspirationally. At that time, we were discussing that we would operate on surgical robots in the future, but this goal seemed so far away. I have always been a “future oriented” person and aspired to innovative solutions, to a higher standard and to those approaches that bring added value to the patient. In this regard, I have constantly prepared to offer everything that means state-of-the-art surgery and aligning the surgical standards in Romania to the ones in the great medical centers of Europe and the USA. Although we did not expect it to happen so soon, robotic technology has become a trendy technique in Romania. So we could say this is a dream come true and I am honored that I had the opportunity to be the first gynecological surgeon performing robotic interventions in Romania.
You are performing robotic surgery for over four years. Do you remember your first robotic surgery? How did it feel completing it?
When I was at the Da Vinci robot console for the first time, I had the feeling that I had always been there. The “intuitive” concept of the Da Vici robot transfers to the surgeon who uses it and support in maximizing his/her surgical skills. Having performed all types of surgery, I can appreciate comparatively, that the new technology gives one of the best visibility, allows the most precise tissue excision and its arms allows gestures that exceed the limits of human gesture, offering great comfort and precision to the surgical act. From the patient’s perspective, the fact that they experience no pain, complications and risks after surgery and can be discharged from the hospital in 2-3 days, these are the real benefits that allows them a fast recovery, to come back to their life routine .
I remember the first robotic operation, a young patient suffering from deep endometriosis. She had been operated on 5 times in 10 years, had no children, and due to previous interventions the ovaries were severely affected by previous interventions and the evolution of the disease. I performed the robotic surgery, I excised all the endometriosis lesions, but her only chance to become a mother is in vitro fertilization with egg donation.
What are the challenges you faced during these years in your field which is mainly dominated by male surgeons?
I have never thought differently about a woman surgeon compared to a man surgeon and I believe we must achieve a balance in the profession, in society and in life. We must overcome these prejudices. People should be seen “professionals”, whether they are men or women. Being a professional, whether one is a woman or a man, should be the real career goal. That is why, as a woman surgeon, I have courageously and balanced assumed all the roles and responsibilities, professional and human. Women and men can beautifully complement each other in their profession, couple or life.
Do you have a piece of advice to young female medical students or surgeons?
Medicine is a continuous learning process. Therefore, my advice is to get continuously informed and educated, to be updated with the progress within the field in which one practices. Get involved in the field you are passionate about! It is very important in surgery that you do it with passion. This way you will not perceive it as an effort, but as a life goal. Last but not least, have courage to exceed your limits, dare following your dreams, believe in your strengths and share your passion with the world!