About a decade ago, I was fortunate enough to work on developing a suite of medical software for operating theaters in Australia/ New Zealand/ UK/ US. Today, I was very surprised to hear that they’re still getting used in operating theaters around the world. Thanks to the internet, I’ve managed to track down some proof of this. This is a demo/ training video prepared by an anesthetist for the benefit of other medical professionals like anesthetists, surgical nurses and surgeons. In it, she demonstrates some of the software and the life saving medical devices that they integrate with.
Unlike civil engineers who build bridges, tunnels and buildings, software developers don’t often get to point to their work many years later to get a sense of personal satisfaction – there are no visible reminders of your contribution to the world. Bridges, tunnels, buildings and even some furniture last a lot longer and provide visible benefits to the community for decades. Their benefit is also easily understood by an average person and therefore do not require any explanation. For example, you can even point at a bridge and tell your mom that you’ve played a part in building that magnificent structure that benefits her everyday . Most software on the other hand do not provide such luxury to the people who work on them.
This is why it feels really good to know that your work has somehow survived a decade, especially in the fast paced software industry. There is an amazing sense of satisfaction in knowing that your work is still helping people and making a difference in the world, even if in a very small way. In this specific instance, the software helps to avoid medical and human errors that occur during surgeries. There are well documented cases of people dying excruciating deaths on the operating table before the invention of these medical devices and the software that run them.
As a software developer, this is my rare moment of joy and absolute pleasure. One has to get very lucky these days to be able to look around and find their work still making a difference out there, especially after ten years. It’s something that only very few will understand and appreciate.