Surgical Excellence and Compassionate Training: Meet Dr. Rana Higgins

Surgical Excellence and Compassionate Training: Meet Dr. Rana Higgins

Rana Higgins, MD, an associate professor of surgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) who specializes in bariatric and general surgery, has a strong belief in the significance of delivering the best surgical experience to her patients, and she is dedicated to ensuring their comfort and understanding throughout every step of the surgical journey. To do this, Dr. Higgins values the use of advanced technology and humanistic care to optimize the patient's surgical experience. Throughout her career, she has actively studied and practiced robotic surgery.

"The way that I describe robotic surgery to my patients is that it's essentially an extension of myself in a minimally invasive way," Dr. Higgins shares. "So we're able to do big surgeries on you in a minimally invasive way to allow you to recover faster and to heal faster."

Practicing robotic surgery led Dr. Higgins to recognize the importance of providing formal robotic training to the next generation of providers. In 2016, she took the helm and created the Robotic Surgery Training Curriculum for general surgery residents at MCW, which is a mandatory part of the curriculum. Residents start the training from their first year and then have different metrics that they need to meet throughout each year.

"I feel as though as surgeons we need to stay at the forefront of technology, the forefront of surgery in order to give the best care to our patients," she says.

Dr. Higgins is the Program Director of the General Surgery Residency program. Another thing she mentions when asked about other unique aspects of the surgery residency program at MCW besides the robotic training, is the opportunity for residents to train at multiple different hospital sites, such as Froedtert Hospital, Children’s Wisconsin, the Clement J. Zablocki VA Hospital and different community hospitals.

"Creating a well-rounded resident and making them feel comfortable in any surgical situation is our job," Dr. Higgins affirms. "You need to see different patient populations and health care systems. You need to know the way that different things are run and different operations are done in order to be the best trained surgeon you can be."

Beyond professional knowledge and skills, Dr. Higgins emphasizes keeping calm as an important trait for a surgeon. She believes that if external factors cause a surgeon to lose their calm, this stress can spread throughout the team and be felt by the patient as well.

"A sense of calmness is critically important to ensure a smooth and safe surgery for the patient," she says. "I think that can only come from experience and come from time. The way I think about it is each patient is someone's important one, and you want to provide them with the absolute best care that you can."

Dr. Higgins believes that MCW provides an important sense of community and family, both as a residency training site and as a workplace for health care providers. Individuals and teams seek help in times of need from any specialty in this community.

"We are focusing on what's best for the patient," she shares. "Taking care of a patient and doing what's best for them requires a team."

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