2014 Presidential Address: Douglas E. Wood, MD

Presidential Address: Take It To the Limit
Douglas E. Wood, MD
University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle
STS 50th Annual Meeting, January 27, 2014, Orlando, FL

Inspired by the 1970s Eagles song “Take It to the Limit,” Douglas E. Wood, MD urged all cardiothoracic surgeons to push new boundaries and adopt a leadership style that embodies the “servant leader” qualities of courage, collaboration, integrity, empathy, humility, and selflessness.

During his Presidential Address at the STS 50th Annual Meeting, Dr. Wood said that changing times demand that the male-dominated profession transition from a masculine, autocratic leadership style to one that is less authoritarian and more feminine.

He described how a zero-sum game—where there is a winner and a loser—does not work in a modern, collaborative world. “In our environments of heart teams and multidisciplinary care, winning is plural,” Dr. Wood said. “Sustainable improvements depend on collaboration and agreement. Over the longer time horizon, we will see that the real winners are those that invoke the skills of sharing credit and consensus building in order to achieve shared success.”

He admitted that this new paradigm may be difficult for the “hard-charging and high-achieving men” that make up a majority of the specialty: “We would all benefit from diminishing our ego and striving for modesty and kindness. Vulnerability can be our new strength.”

He also encouraged the promotion of women in the specialty. “Demonstrate the excitement, innovation, and career value and satisfaction that we have as surgeons. Encourage 
them because that is how we will grow, that is how we will stay relevant in the 21st century, and that is how all of us, women and men alike, will learn from each other how to make a difference for our specialty and for the world,” Dr. Wood said.

He also used his Presidential Address to congratulate the cardiothoracic surgeons who are taking it to the limit outside of the operating room. He recognized several surgeons—one who became the vice president of Guatemala, one who designed a health education program for elementary school kids, and another who served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Prior to his address, Dr. Wood paid tribute to those in the audience who served in the Armed Forces, from World War II to the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. He thanked them for their service and commended them for their inspirational work.