Football’s loss is surgery’s gain

In most cases football and medicine don’t mix. On the rare occasion, it is possible to master both.

footballs loss dr mcfield

Dr. Daaron McField with son Galen and wife Sarah.

Recently, the son of a local attorney swapped his football boots for a career in medicine after becoming the first Caymanian to be drafted by a professional Canadian football team.

Pro-footballer 33-year-old Dr. Daaron McField, son of local attorney, Steve McField, scored his ultimate goal – becoming a doctor.

To him football was lots of fun and a good experience, but his intentions were never to take it seriously. ‘If you want a job that will always challenge you mentally, being a doctor is like no other,’ he said.

To him, the privileged spot in society and the confidences he holds are second to none – maybe only a priest would hear them otherwise.

‘There is no job more interesting or more rewarding than medicine – surgery above all,’ he said.

‘It really makes a difference to be in a position to see people at their most vulnerable moments and have the opportunity to make a difference – whether that is to save a life, improve a life or just to help them transition through the end of life.’

Dr. McField said his skills are always evolving and there is never a plateau where you just do the routine. In medicine, things are always interesting and the interpersonal relationships you form with people can be lifelong.

According to Dr. McField, most young university students either want to go into law or medicine but his desire is to become a surgical oncologist in the treatment of cancer patients.

There are a lot of things that are difficult in the medical field, he said. ‘The expenses can be enormous, the time tremendous and a sacrifice in terms of life and family.’

His advice to any young Caymanian looking at joining the medical profession is that ‘[i]t is hard work. If you are doing it to get rich it is the wrong profession, but the personal satisfaction is rewarding.’

He said becoming a doctor can take four years of university, another four years of medical school, residence training for general surgery can be anywhere from five to seven years, racking up a total of 13-15 just to get general surgery training. If you want to be a neurosurgeon, that could take up to 20 years.

‘I would not mind reaching that far but don’t know if I have the stamina,’ he admitted.

Looking at becoming a surgical oncologist in the near future Dr. McField completed medical school in 2007 and is presently involved with on-the-job training.

He is presently assisting other surgeons with such procedures as removing gall bladders and appendices, basic hernia repairs and opening the stomach to prepare for big operations.

‘You are basically eased into it and you progress as your level of expertise increases. But I am coming along just fine,’ said Dr. McField.

When asked if there was ever a time he had the thoughts of backing out. Dr. McField said usually every morning when the alarm goes off at 4am. That is when he thinks to himself he should have been a janitor. Bu that all goes away as soon as he enters the hospital.

Coming home?

When asked if he ever considered working fulltime in Cayman’s medical industry, Dr. McField said it would depend on their willingness to compensate him.

‘Surgical oncologists in the United States make a good living. I have seen advertisements here offering salaries of $100,000 – one has to ask themselves what kind of quality surgeon passes up making $300,000 for that,’ he said.

But what he said Cayman could benefit from is a specialised clinic.

‘Having a good clinic would draw patients from all around the Caribbean to get medical attention that they would normally go to the United States for,’ he said.

‘It would also diversify the economy and bring in highly-educated and wealthy people that would be a benefit to the community. The Cayman population would also benefit in terms of having a specialist on island, such as a full-time cardiologist, this has been a huge problem for the past years,’ he said.

Dr. McField said it was reasonable to say that Cayman cannot afford to have one because of the population size, but he pointed out that one should think of the benefits of people coming in for elective cardiac care or a Caymanian who has a heart attack in the middle of the night – it would be a great advantage.

‘Cayman is set in a unique position, in fact, just doorsteps to the United States. There is enough of a diverse community that the country could draw from the medical world just like it draws financially,’ he said.

‘We could draw people to the Cayman Islands for specialised medical care just like places such as the Mayo and, Cleveland Clinics, where 50 per cent of the patients get medical care and return home. There is no reason why we can’t do that here in Cayman.’

Dr. McField is presently visiting family in Cayman with his son Galen and wife Sarah.