Ewha Med J.  2017 Apr;40(2):61-65. 10.12771/emj.2017.40.2.61.

Intensivist as a Surgeon: The Role of a Surgeon in Critical Care Medicine

  • 1Division of Critical Care Medicine, Department of Surgery, Ewha Womans University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. hongks@ewha.ac.kr


Critical care medicine is to provide advanced medical care to critically ill-patients threatened by severe diseases. Although critical care is a core area of surgery, surgeons have fewer interests and opportunities for participating in it, and the dedicated intensivists with other specialties have had a deeper involvement. It is difficult to recruit surgical intensivists or trauma surgeons for critical care due to the high labor intensity, high risk of medical accidents and conflicts, and inappropriate remuneration. The most common cause, however, is the lack of opportunities for surgical cases. There is a negative perception among surgeons that surgical intensivists are "˜the surgeons who do not operate.' That makes the surgeons feel the gap between what they majored and what they practice. Acute care surgery, that is a relatively new, but more specialized surgical area including emergency surgery, trauma and critical care, can be a good alternative. Critically ill-patients who suffered from hemorrhagic shock, septic shock, acute renal injury, and acute respiratory distress syndrome need the intensive and aggressive treatments. Surgeons have been used to these invasive and aggressive procedures. Surgeons who have trained the critical care may be able to acquire the expertise, easily. The intensivists as a surgeon, who fully understands the operations, postoperative courses or complications, or the optimal time of surgery, can provide more efficient and accurate treatments for surgically critically ill-patients than any intensivists with other specialties. It is needed to change the surgeons' negative perceptions themselves with the support of the Korean Society of Surgery.


Surgeons; Critical care; Critical illness; Intensive care units; Education

MeSH Terms

Acute Kidney Injury
Critical Care*
Critical Illness
Intensive Care Units
Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Adult
Shock, Hemorrhagic
Shock, Septic
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