It was the late 1960s. I’d finished medical school, and I was planning to go into cardiac surgery. Everybody tried to talk me out of it. Looking back, I can understand why. It had been less than 20 years since the development of cardio-pulmonary bypass made it possible for surgeons to perform complex open heart procedures. Cardiac surgery was a rigorous and fast-moving discipline. The work would be hard, the hours would be long, and the learning curve was steeper than Mount Washington.
And I had a few things going against me. For one, there was my academic record. I’d worked hard as undergraduate, but long days and nights in the library produced little more than a collection of Cs. Twelve of 13 medical schools rejected me. I was the least talented person in my residency. That’s why people told me that it would be a mistake for me to go into cardiac surgery.