Ben Carson's Medical Career Shows While He Might Not Be An Experienced Politician, He Was A Darn Good Doctor
Dr. Ben Carson entered the first GOP presidential debate on Thursday right in the middle as the fifth of 10 candidates. The response to the retired neurosurgeon on social media, however, had him mentioned second only to Donald Trump. The debate was both candidates' first, the two having just entered politics by seeking the highest office in the land. While Trump's career is as ubiquitous as his harsh rhetoric, Carson is a lesser known candidate. What he most frequently mentioned was his career prior to politics in the field of medicine. What does Ben Carson's medical background look like?
Carson is a highly respected former neurosurgeon whose experience lies primarily in pediatrics. At 33, he was the youngest director of pediatric surgery in the country at John Hopkins Hospital — the prestigious institution where he'd completed his residency. He was a pioneer in hemispherectomy operations, a procedure that involves removing half of the brain that had previously fallen out of favor. He was the first neurosurgeon to successfully separate twins conjoined at the head in 1987, prolonging the lives of German twins Patrick and Benjamin Binder and gaining him international acclaim. Through such procedures, Carson was able to develop imaging software that is still used for surgery preparation to this day, essentially allowing for physicians to practice before they perform surgery.
Not every surgery that Carson performed was a success. A risky operation in 2003 to separate adult twins conjoined at the head ultimately failed, as did other less publicized surgeries. Still, Carson's risk-taking has netted him respect in the medical community along with countless honorary doctorates. He retired from medicine in 2013 and has since set his sights on politics.
The ways in which Carson drew from his medical background during the GOP debate were incredibly varied. In his closing statement, he made a joke about one of the pioneering surgeries he'd performed in relation to the overall intelligence of politicians. Carson said:
[I'm] the only one to operate on babies while they were still in mother's womb, the only one to take out half of a brain, although you would think, if you go to Washington, that someone had beat me to it.
Carson also refocused a question regarding race on his experience as a neurosurgeon:
I was asked by an NPR reporter once, why don't I talk about race that often. I said it's because I'm a neurosurgeon... I said, you see, when I take someone to the operating room, I'm actually operating on the thing that makes them who they are. The skin doesn't make them who they are. The hair doesn't make them who they are. And it's time for us to move beyond that.
The American people appear to like Carson's responses and his prestigious medical background may help him more than an already established political career. According to social media information culled from Twitter, Carson received 12 percent of all mentions in regards to the debate. Trump retained the top spot with 30 percent of all mentions. Likewise, Carson was second in terms of Facebook engagement, according to Reuters. Recent polling data from One America News Network suggests Carson "won" the debate, garnering an 80 percent more favorable ranking.