Studies show that surgeons who perform a high volume of a particular surgery have higher success rates. Endocrine surgeon Glenda Callender, MD, has honed her skill by focusing mostly on performing minimally invasive surgeries to treat cancers of the andrenal glands, as well as the parathyroid and the thyroid, for almost 10 years.
“It’s really nice, actually, because, over time, you become extremely comfortable with what you do,” Dr. Callender explains. “I can see little tiny variations in anatomy that I wouldn't otherwise notice if I didn't do these surgeries literally all day, every day.”
Yale Medicine’s endocrine surgery practice is notably high-volume in itself. As a result, Dr. Callender says both doctors and support staff are highly experienced, and able to answer any questions patients may have. “It's very gratifying to be able to work in a system where everything is so streamlined, efficient and straightforward,” she says.
Dr. Callender says that the highly focused environment means she is able to devote more time to guiding each patient through the process of an endocrine surgery with sensitivity and compassion. Her field requires highly specialized knowledge of both surgery and medicine, particularly in the area of hormone cycles, she notes, adding that hormonal problems often manifest in vague, hard-to-pin-down symptoms. “So many endocrine patients feel like they're going crazy, and the reason for this is that most endocrine diseases deal with imbalances of hormones,” she says. “It’s very gratifying to be able to fix that with a small operation that patients recover from very quickly.”
Dr. Callender is an associate professor of surgery (endocrine) at Yale School of Medicine and director of Endocrine Surgical Oncology Clinical Trials. In the latter role, she is always looking for ways to make small improvements to surgeries that she says have very good results for the vast majority of patients. “The best part of this job is seeing patients in the clinic after surgery, because they're always so grateful,” says Dr. Callender.