Like many doctors, Dr Kelly Mayson had mentors as she pursued her medical degree in the mid-eighties. It was during a rural rotation that she met a GP anesthesiologist, who mentored her and ‘opened her eyes’ to the potential of anesthesiology.
With a vast interest in science and an undergraduate in cell biology and genetics, Dr Mayson initially thought research was her path. However, she realized later that anesthesiology offered her a more complete package that encompassed both the physiology and pharmacology aspects of providing care, in addition to enabling her to work in a team-based environment. She believes the key to success is a team-based approach to care where specialists and family physicians work together and in collaboration with physiotherapists, dieticians, social workers, and nurses.
As an anesthesiologist and clinical professor at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH), Dr Mayson’s passion is surgical patient optimization, a field of health care quality improvement that focuses on optimizing patients’ health before surgery in order to improve their surgical outcomes. This is done by examining the patient before surgery for pre-existing health conditions, such as diabetes and anemia, and for possible harmful behaviors, such as smoking, drinking and drug use. The wait time for surgery is then productively used to optimize the patient’s mental and physical conditions by eliminating harmful behaviors, and or taking supplements/medications, or simply exercising.
Dr Mayson initially became interested in quality improvement about 15 years ago when she was head of the post anesthesia care unit at VGH, where wondering about the causes of patients’ poor surgical recovery such as excess pain, nausea, anemia etc., made her question what could be done to prevent such complications.
Now the co-lead of the Surgical Patient Optimization Collaborative, she says, “I'm not only proceeding with my own quality improvement projects, but also now involved in training other physicians to undertake such projects, with the goal of creating a bigger community of physicians involved in improving the quality of care in our province.”
Dr Mayson strongly believes in adding to the curriculum of the medical schools and allied health programs, the importance of prehabilation and optimization prior to surgery. She notes, “Probably my biggest shortcoming is that I'm impatient. If I see an answer, I want it implemented now, but I understand that changing culture and improving care pathways takes time, and having local data to drive change is critical to success.”
Surgical care in BC is in good shape with dedicated physicians such as Dr Mayson helping to guide the process. Click here to read Dr Mayson’s full profile.