A Passion for Children: A Paper Edit

This week’s lesson in IMC 634 was a bit challenging. This week we dived in to what it is like to do a paper edit. Basically a paper edit is taking (in this instance) an interview and dwindling down the script to a 30 second commercial or branding video. It is merely cutting and pasting text. You do not add words, but can take them out if necessary.

In this lesson, we had an interview from a Long Island Pediatric plastic surgeon. The interview script was 9 pages long and needed to be cut to be a 30 second branding video. The doctor wants her “Meet the Doctor” video to attract the parents of children who need “craniofacial reconstruction.” Our instructions are to edit the interview so that your speaker speaks in ordinary language, even as she reassures the audience that she’s highly qualified. In plastic surgery, it’s all about results. But it’s also important for the patient (or, in this case, the parent of the patient) to fall in love with the doctor. There’s a lot to juggle here.

Here we go.

Paper Edit

I take care of deformed children.

If I’m going to spend all of the rest of my life doing something, I want to love it and I want to love every case I do.

Cleft lip and palate is one of the most common birth defects or birth deformities that occur.

It’s extremely common in this country and the reason why people think that this only happens in Third World countries — and it’s that picture that people see on the side of a bus — is because we take care of these things very early in life. So that stigma of what the baby looks like with a cleft lip and nose is taken away very early on.

The patients that I felt most passionate about and that I felt I connected mostly with were the children.

Life is challenging enough and the majority of these children are 100 percent normal as far as their intelligence is concerned, so they just need a few operations so — but to have the stigma of having a deformity, a congenital deformity, can have an unbelievable impact on kids and how they eventually develop as young adults.

The first surgery, the cleft lip and nose surgery, is performed typically about three to four months of age. the cleft palate procedure is usually performed between nine and twelve months of age.

You develop a very intimate relationship with the patient. I meet most of my patients right after they’re born, and then I often take care of them until they’re teenagers and thereafter. So I get to know their parents even before the child is born.

If you see my office, you’ll see that the entire place is just filled with toys and it’s very children friendly. I very rarely see my patients in an exam room. I think it makes them nervous. And the majority of my exams that I have to do, I can do with them sitting on my couch in my office, and then they can play with their toys and their siblings can play with the toys while I speak to the parents about the nuts and bolts of what we have to do going forward. Because I realized that if you’re in an exam room, the children are bored or anxious and then they’re crying and they’re bothering or tugging on the parents. And then the parents can’t focus on what I’m saying, and we’re talking about important things. Their child is about to have surgery. So I found that that environment really works well with my practice. So I see the majority of my patients in my office setting. And most of the time the kids are just playing and then the siblings aren’t left out. I mean, a lot of times with kids like this– a lot of times the siblings feel left out, that that one sibling is getting a lot of attention, so we try to incorporate the siblings into the visit as well.

I think one of the most satisfying things is not only seeing the effect that I can have on the family as whole and the parents and bringing the baby out from the operating room and having the parents hug me and cry and be thankful for the change that was made. I think it’s just one of the most amazing things to transform a child’s life like that so that they’re not — that they don’t have a disadvantage in that regard and they’re not teased and that they can go to school and be full functioning and be a normal kid like they are.

I am the only plastic surgeon here on Long Island who dedicates their practice to pediatric craniofacial surgery. I never wear a white coat in the office. It scares them. They come to my office and they have a playroom to play in while I’m examining them and they don’t know I’m examining them, I think I’m small. I’m sort of their size almost. I never stand up with them. I’m always sitting down. The kids really related to me and were very relaxed around me versus a lot of my colleagues. And if it’s just virtue of the fact that I’m smaller and they think I’m one of them, it works.

I think what makes me unique perhaps or my practice unique is that I’m 100 percent dedicated to pediatric craniofacial surgery. I am the only plastic surgeon here on Long Island who dedicates their practice to pediatric craniofacial surgery.

It’s an area of plastic surgery that I feel you need to do a lot of to be very good at it. I don’t think it’s something you can dabble in. I don’t think it’s appropriate to do one cleft palate a year. I think it’s something you need to really dedicate your life to and to really make a difference and really to take the best care of kids.


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