A working friendship, in and out of the OR
by Matthew N. Skoufalos
Surgical technicians Robin Morgan and Jill Wilson have a lot in common.
The two friends met at Griffin Technical College in Griffin, Ga., where they each earned certification 12 years ago. They got along so well as partners on projects and research that they carpooled to clinical evaluations together, discussing a shared dream of working in plastic surgery after finishing school.
The duo parted ways after receiving their certificates, and each went to pursue their dream. Wilson secured a job at Advanced Aesthetics in Fayetteville, Ga., and Morgan went to work for another plastic surgeon in nearby Conyers, Ga. Five years later, when the practice was hiring, Morgan joined the team at Advanced Aesthetics and began working alongside her best friend in the OR.
Today, their families live 20 minutes apart from one another. When Morgan needs a day off, Wilson covers her shift in the OR. When the two took separate Florida vacations years ago, they met in Disney World with their spouses.
“We’re just a lot of the same kind of people,” Wilson says. “She’s the best person inside and outside of work. “There’s never been a time where she’s gotten on my nerves.”
“We’re both pretty easygoing,” Morgan echoes. “We always help each other out. We always say that when things get bad at work, the only reason we stick around is for each other.”
“We’re a pretty good team,” Wilson says. “They’re pretty darn lucky [at Advanced Aesthetics] because they never have to look for somebody.”
Wilson and Morgan were drawn to the specialty for many of the same reasons: no on-call work, independent supply ordering and processing, and more all-around control that comes from working with a smaller staff of physicians.
“We like knowing exactly what the surgeon’s going to want,” Wilson explains. “Having the three of them it’s like having a little bit of a change, but not remembering 20 doctors and what they want.”
The two agree on so much that it’s almost a marvel it took them as many as five years to go to work in the same practice. (Morgan has been with Advanced Aesthetics for six years; Wilson, almost 11.)
In college, Wilson says, “I remember sitting in class, and the teacher asking what field we wanted to go into. Robin said ‘plastics,’ and I thought, ‘that’s a good idea.’ So I just went with that.”
“From watching all the programs on TV, you get interested in the cosmetic side of it,” Morgan says, “but from working there you see how all the procedures we can do make a difference in someone’s life or their self esteem, whether it be for cosmetic reasons or for someone’s health.”
Wilson and Morgan were among the first certificate holders in their program at Griffin. They missed one another after school, Wilson says.
“I kept calling her and telling her, ‘please come over here and help me.’ I was the only one; we had three surgeons and we were working five days a week,” Wilson says.
Wilson had been doing five days a week in the OR and wanted to take a break from surgery. “I filled in, and she started seeing patients and doing officetype work,” Morgan says. “I like picking up instruments more than I like picking up pens.”
Wilson and Morgan work with the doctors at Advanced Aesthetics on cosmetic surgery procedures and act as medical assistants one day a week, helping patients with dressing changes and assisting with office work.
Wilson also does pre-op with patients, going over the medications and what to expect. “She knows everything around the office,” Morgan says. “Working for the same group of doctors, we know what to expect before they know what they want.”
The smaller size of their team allows the staff to cut back on the time because things flow so well, Morgan says.
“We’re a really small group. We have the same anesthesia provider every day. We know each other. It takes a lot to stand in one place for so long with someone.”
Aside from working in close quarters with good company, Morgan says she appreciates that the office allows her to participate in what she calls life-changing work.
Whether it’s an ear-pinning surgery that saves a child from bullying or a breast reconstruction for a chemotheraphy patient, “We’re giving them some kind of hope that when they’re going through, they’re going to have some part of their body back. It makes you feel so much better either way.”
“We’ve had adults who have waited their entire lives” to have a procedure done, Morgan says – “people who have never had the money to do it financially.”
After becoming a mother “and seeing what children can do to you,” Morgan says, the center performs “a lot of mommy makeovers”—usually a combination tummy tuck and breast augmentation, reconstruction or reduction—“and I’m 100 percent for that,” she says.
“I can speak for myself because I’ve had it done. I think that it really gives you back your core strength that was stretched out or became lax during pregnancy.”
When Morgan decided to go under the knife to get her mommy makeover, it was at Advanced Aesthetics— with Wilson assisting.
“I’ve operated on quite a few of my friends,” Wilson says. “It was exciting. I was way more excited to operate on her than just a regular person who comes in.”
Not only did the procedure deepen the bonds of their friendship, Morgan says, but it also gave her more of a reassuring authority when speaking to clients.
“I think it’s easier to talk to patients and let them know what to expect during the recovery when you’ve been there,” she says.
And of course it’s far easier with someone you know you can rely on assisting.
“I’m happy that [Morgan] trusted me enough to do that,” Wilson says. She’s a wonderful person, and I love her.”