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Orthopedic surgeon adds Amazon’s bestseller to achievements

April 9, 2019

Her rules of medicine are here to inform, encourage and blur boundaries.

This is what Humble resident Dr. Sonya Sloan, an orthopedic surgeon, wanted her 148-page creation to do to every reader. Besides being a work that took two years to sculpt, “The Rules of Medicine: A Medical Professional’s Guide for Success” is also her first book and, later on, her debut on Amazon’s bestseller list.

“It really is a pay-it-forward to the medical community,” said Sloan, who also goes by the moniker #OrthoDoc. “This book is specifically geared toward ‘I wish somebody would have told me some of the things that are in here’ since it would make things that much easier on this difficult road. And a lot of it is spoken, a lot of it is discussed, but it’s never been chronicled in one place to say, ‘This is what you should know.’”

It is also a device to break certain grounds. When Sloan was still living in her hometown of Denison, she never saw a female physician or a black physician. On the other hand, there were plenty of signs dictating that guys dominated the surgical world.

“I talk about it in the book as well,” Sloan said, “how it’s still a hazing-slash-ritualistic, the ‘if I had to go through it, you’ll have to go through it’ mentality. It’s definitely rough. Definitely rough.”

Moreover, she said, women in the field who go through the “14 to 17” years of academia will also be in their peak childbearing years, meaning that they will have an important life choice to make. Sloan — a mother of three — recalled catching “a lot of flack” since she had her first child during her last year of orthopedic-surgery training.

But it was a now-or-never moment. She chose the former.

Sloan is also the First Lady of The Luke Church in Humble, a role that fuses an element of spirituality into her scientific background. Such a blend allows the care to be more holistic in nature, she thought.

“Just understanding the culture and being respectful of the spirituality makes a huge difference in the patients’ healing process, how they deal with their traumas, their sicknesses, illnesses — and you’ve got to be respectful if you want to be successful in medicine,” she said. “In medicine, unfortunately, we are so (focused) on what’s in front of us — just finish, get through, complete the course, see the patient and get home — and not on the totality of what it does to us as human beings over the long haul.”

There is a section in the book dedicated to “learning to feel again,” she shared. From her perspective, the continuous inhibiting of emotions to focus on the immediate work could erode the soul and fog the mind.

Another self-related aspect that her book also covers is branding, for this case the image associated with the medical personnel that can influence their career.

Sloan said that she is “brewing” her second book, which will also be a guide but with an eye on embracing failures. Until its release date, though, “The Rules of Medicine: A Medical Professional’s Guide for Success” is purchasable for $3.99 for the Kindle version and $9.99 for the paperback one.

Sloan is also the founder of God’s Women Rock, the first women’s interfaith roundtable dialogue on human trafficking in Houston. The group has two upcoming events, one on April 30 and another on May 3.

nguyen.le@chron.com