Working life: John Burke, consultant general and colorectal surgeon, Bon Secours Hospital and Beaumont Hospital

John Burke

5.45am
One of my three small boys usually wakes when I do, so I deposit him in our bedroom with his Mum before leaving. 

The drive to work takes half an hour. I have coffee on the go.

Beaumont Hospital beckons on a Monday morning where we start the week with a multidisciplinary team (MDT) meeting to discuss colorectal cancer cases.

7.30am

As part of the Dublin North East Hospital Group, we’re responsible for treating rectal cancer in an area with a large catchment population.

As a result, a substantial number of cancer cases are discussed at the MDT where the focus is on how best to manage and treat patients.

Recently the Bons became the first private hospital in Ireland to attain JAG (joint advisory group) accreditation, formal recognition that an endoscopy department is operating to the highest standards; and many of these cases are discussed also. Within the Group, I look after patients with large rectal polyps.

I trained in the US in a procedure called TAMIS (transanal minimally invasive surgery) and I manage these lesions often identified by screening colonoscopy.

10am

Inpatient consults are part of the morning agenda.

I see patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), ulcerative colitis (chronic inflammation that causes damage to the colon) and Crohn’s disease (inflammation that can occur anywhere in the digestive tract).

I trained in IBD surgery at the Cleveland Clinic in the US and this is a large part of my practice.

On Fridays, I tend to operate on these and patients discussed at our MDT in Beaumont.

In 90% of these major procedures I perform laparoscopically (keyhole surgery) which leads to smaller incisions and shorter recovery times.

12.30pm

I have lunch with a colleague after tackling paperwork, such as reviewing referrals to my public and private clinic, prioritising urgent cases.

1.30pm

Monday afternoon is dedicated to surgery at the Bon Secours, including hernia operations and gallbladder surgery.

I also treat patients with proctology problems, such as haemorrhoids, fistulae and fissures.

These are rewarding cases, often with an immediate benefit to the patient.

6.30pm

I head home for dinner with my wife and hopefully in time to help put the kids to bed.

With three boys — a newborn, an 18-month-old, and a three-year-old — it’s a busy house.

John Burke, is consultant general and colorectal surgeon, at Bon Secours Hospital and Beaumont Hospital, Dublin.


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