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The Journal of the American Medical Association has announced that, in a departure from its usual practice of awarding its “Surgeon of the Year” award to a board-certified surgeon, it will present this year’s Golden Caduceus to Ms. Sandra Buttermilk, a poet and high school English teacher from Hazelton, Pennsylvania.
Doctors, nurses, and hospital administrators across the country were caught off guard by the announcement, which was made, as is customary, at midnight during the annual JAMA pig roast. One attendee, neurologist Doctor Arty Feipfer, was so surprised that he dropped his cigar into his brandy snifter. No one was injured in the resulting conflagration, but the announcement had to be paused while the flames were subdued.
After the fire department personnel had departed the banquet hall, JAMA prize committee spokesman, Dr. Neil Matterhorn explained, “It has always been difficult for us to pick a winner. Year after year there are so many great American surgeons who contribute so much to helping people through advancing the medical arts that it becomes almost impossible to pick one above the others. But this year we are inspired by the approach of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, which bestowed this year’s award on President Obama based on his vision for world peace.” After a brief round of applause, Dr. Matterhorn went on to say, “We are pleased to follow suit, and to present this prestigious award to a woman who dares to not only envision a world free of disease and suffering, but through her poetry, to share that vision with others.”
Matterhorn did not mention it in the official announcement, but during an interview at the after-party, he explained that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was another nominee who had been closely considered by the committee. “Her tremendous efforts to almost pass health care reform did not go unnoticed,” he said, “but ultimately it came down to Ms. Buttlemilk’s ability to find rhymes for words like psoriasis and myocardial infarction.”
Doctor Jerome Bladwort, pioneer of a revolutionary technique for pediatric heart valve surgeries, and widely considered the favorite to win this year’s award, was on vacation and could not be reached for comment. According to his office, he spends every October in Benin, working at a free clinic for terminally ill children.