I must be honest, and say that I have never known anyone who had to have hip or knee replacement surgery. When I saw this question, I almost decided not to write an essay at all, however I realized that, having experienced a surgery myself, that I could at least relate to the fundamentals of any surgery.

The recovery. After experiencing oral surgery to remove my wisdom teeth, I can testify that the most excruciating and longest part of the process is the recovery after the surgery is over. This is where I am sure all the changes must be made in order to improve patient satisfaction. Doctors know how to perform surgery, but for a patient to be satisfied, they must have the outcome desired afterwards.

This means the most relatively low amount of pain and improved about of function in the limps as possible.
When it comes to satisfaction, the most important part of the process is managing pain levels.

A patient can adapt to different lifestyles or different levels of functioning in limbs, and overtime these functions will become part of their normal routine. Living with pain, however, is different.

There is no overcoming pain or learning to live with it, when in pain, as I was after my oral surgery, is something that will feel like suffering day in and day out, no matter how long it lasts. Therefore I would reckon that the most important part of improving satisfaction is in ensuring the least amount of pain possible for the patient involved.

This is a delicate balance, and one must also consider the risks of patients becoming dependent on drugs. Therefore I think the best solution is for surgeons to look for alternative methods of pain relief that do not create a dependency on medication.

Another factor that may affect the satisfaction is the expectation of the patient for the outcome after the surgery. A well informed patient who understands the expected outcomes fully will be less dissatisfied that one who may set expectations too high that will not be met.

This is a practical and simple idea, that to dash someone’s hopes will surely lead to a greater disappointment, but surgeons should also be sure to outline the outcomes from the surgery clearly, and not set patient expectations too high before the process. This is a significantly easy and important way to improve patient satisfaction.
Lastly, and most obviously, there is the psychological state and physical state of the patient. A patient with a positive attitude is clearly going to have a better outcome.

This will improve his or her physical therapy sessions and their progress overall, so ensuring access to necessary psychological guidance and counseling is crucial. Of course, the functioning of the limb is the goal, and everything should be done to improve the functioning to the best possible extent.

Psychological initiative is also key here, and will allow the patient to put forth the most effort and have an increased likelihood in limb function improvement. A more positive outlook will ensure the greatest chance of physical success for the patient.

2016 Scholarship Finalist

Clara B

Chevy Chase, Maryland

The final question on the application was an essay question.

The essay question was:

How can orthopedic surgeons doing hip and knee replacement surgery improve patient satisfaction?