Last weekend my wife and I saw the movie ‘Sully’. It is a great movie to see. I recommend it. It is based on the true story of Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger who on January 15th, 2009 successfully makes an emergency landing in New York’s Hudson River after the US Airways commercial passenger plane he was flying was struck by a flock of geese which destroyed both engines. He suddenly had no engine power to fly the plane. There were no airfields close enough to land the plane. The only option was to attempt to land the plane on the water in the Hudson River. He successfully did this and all of the 155 passengers and crew survive the harrowing ordeal. In the movie Sully (played by Tom Hanks) said the only reason he could successfully do this was because of his 40 years of flying experience. The procedures manual was of no use. He only had his experience that gave him considerable expertise to rely on. It is clear in the subsequent investigation of the emergency landing that if a more junior pilot had been the pilot the plane would have crashed and lives would have been lost.
Afterwards, I was thinking of how experience is so important in all fields of work. Whether it is a tradesperson or a professional, logically the longer you do your career the better you get at it.
During childbirth, there can be ‘struck by a flock of geese’ crises in which experience is so important to provide the right management and so optimise the safeguarding of the well-being of the mother and her unborn baby. A more senior obstetrician is more likely to provide better clinical management than a trainee or a junior obstetrician in a childbirth crisis.
I have now personally managed over 10,000 pregnancies. As a consequence, I now have the greater clinical acumen, greater confidence and greater expertise than I did decades ago as a trainee obstetrician or as a junior obstetrician. Patients and their partners often comment about how calm I am, even when there is a crisis. It is because of my considerable experience that I have confidence in my ability to be able to make the right decision and provide good management. Furthermore, my considerable experience is a chief reason why I enjoy being an obstetrician so much today.