What is The Get Better Lab anyway?

Hi, my name’s Cameron Mackay. I’m a plastic and reconstructive surgeon from Brisbane, in Australia. As a surgeon, I spend a lot of my time in the operating theatre but also, a significant amount of my time talking to my patients about their conditions. While surgery is one facet of my work, a surgeon also manages surgical conditions as a whole, so a lot of the time we’re trying to work out if a patient needs an operation or not – and often they don’t.

I’ve started the Get Better Lab to provide high-quality information and education. Everyone wants to get better at something, right? You might be a patient wanting to get better after your surgery, or you might be a student, or even a doctor, who wants to get better at anatomy. That’s what this is all about – helping us to get better and trying to provide as much information as possible to make that happen.

What’s my story? Well, my initial degree was in science at the University of Queensland, majoring in anatomy and physiology. I spent most of my time in my undergraduate degree in the anatomy lab and specifically, the dissection lab. And if I wasn’t there studying, I was there teaching or prosecting for other students.

From there I went on to do a masters of forensic science while a member of the Queensland Police Service. Anyone who knows anything about forensic science and forensic anthropology will be able to pick where I am in this photo:

The body farm in Tennessee link: https://fac.utk.edu/

I worked there one summer with anthropologist Dr William Bass [https://bit.ly/39xugKk].

From there I went on to study medicine and surgery and now I’m in a position where I can spend time consulting and talking with patients. Yes, some of the time I’m in the operating theatre and that is the place where I can really apply my clinical knowledge of anatomy to surgical use. As surgeons, we are anatomists; we are practical anatomists and we use our knowledge of anatomy to try and help people.

One part of the Get Better Lab is about the operating theatres – but the rest of ‘the laboratory’ is education, teaching, and learning. My focus is hand surgery specifically at the moment and the reason for that we’ll discuss in more detail as these episodes progress.

I will say this: the hand is extremely complicated, anatomically and physically. It has a wonderful mix of form and function and is very difficult to reconstruct and rehabilitate so there are constant challenges which provide interest to a surgeon and an anatomist like me – and perhaps you too?

So, at The Lab, we’re going to start at the beginning and talk about anatomy. We’re going to talk about surgery and clinical conditions. But what I hope is that along the way, we get some questions from you about things you would like to know and I’ll do the best I can to use the knowledge I have and the training I have to give that back to you in an easy-to-understand way.

The Lab is called a lab because we’re going to take your advice, work on it, and try and present it back to you. Interaction with you is very important to us. We need to know what you need to know. So, welcome and let’s get started!

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