I am a breast surgeon, an educator, and an advocate. My practice philosophy is simple – I strive to provide the highest quality care in a comfortable and warm setting, and to tailor that care as much as possible to the individual needs of each patient.
I am often asked what led me to specialize in breast surgery – in addition to a fascination with the scientific advancements we have made, I was also drawn to the long-term patient relationships. The specialty requires spending time getting to know the patient, understanding her disease, and then putting the two together to come up with a treatment plan that she is comfortable with. I recognized very early in my career this was something that came naturally. When I was behind closed doors with my patients, I was often asked by my staff, “What are you talking about in there for so long?”
Looking back at events that have shaped my practice style, there are two that stand out.
The first is my father, who is a retired cardiothoracic surgeon. He was an immigrant to this country, from a very humble background. When I was in high school, I accompanied him to his office, on hospital rounds, and to the operating room. And I was fascinated. I saw another side to my father – of course I always knew him as a loving and brilliant man. But I also saw how he could explain complicated medical conditions and procedures using plain language that the patient and their family would understand. He spent as much time as was needed, never leaving the room until every question – from the patient and their family – had been answered. I also saw a brilliant heart surgeon who was considerate to all and generous with both time and knowledge. His humility shined. I find myself hearing his voice with almost every patient encounter. I feel I was taught by the best.
The other factor that has shaped my practice philosophy stemmed from personal experiences. I always knew – and I think most physicians would agree – that Western medicine does not always have all of the answers. That hit home for me a number of years ago, and the experience opened my mind even more to the fact that there is often more than one “right” answer. I was also able to appreciate just how scared and powerless patients feel, and how the lack of control over their illness interferes with decision-making. In order to truly heal, physicians must appreciate what is important to the patient, understand the disease and the role it plays in their lives, and embrace shared decision-making. This is the only way to come up with a treatment plan that the patient feels comfortable with.
Dr. Attai does not provide online medical advice. The information provided is for general information only.
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