10 Tips for New Doctors… from a New Doctor

It’s July! This means it’s time for some brand new doctors to hit the market, either in Residency, Fellowship or as Attendings. By NO means do I feel like i’m any more learned on this than anyone else and am CONSTANTLY needing to update my own personal information and knowledge on this regarding my fund of knowledge, my interactions with patients and peers and my management of my personal finances, insurances and beyond. As an attending for only the last 1 year, I am by NO means an authority to talk about any of this, but at the same time I’ve been asked by many of my former co-residents and colleagues about various aspects of being a new Attending. At the very least, my acquisition of information and learning to adapt to hospital and staff changes and navigate the business world has been seemingly accelerated by working as an independent contracting locum tenens provider. I’ve pulled from multiple other sources (aka the top 3 or 4 Google Results) as well and picked and chosen some of the points I find most salient as I left formal training.

Note: I plan in the future to have a more specific post on personal Finance, but in no way, shape or form do I consider myself anything more than a novice on this point.

  1. Be nice, but at the least Polite. Another blog post to come on this, but this means to EVERYONE. This means learning names of nurses, therapists, EVS/housekeeping, secretaries, technicians. Remember that your credentials mean less than your demeanor. When you walk into a new unit or office, you’re stepping into someone else’s house, treat it likewise. You don’t know need to be best friends with everyone, in fact, that may not bring you Respect, but you need to be polite. Do not come in expecting anything, introduce yourself and don’t be an asshole.
  2. Be honest, don’t lie; admit that you don’t know, realize limitations. Nobody expects any one person, even an Attending, to know everything. Medicine has shifted in the right direction towards team-based success. Realize that your credentials do not mean you know more than someone with more experience, know your limitations; however, on the same token, you DO know things. Regardless, be able to admit you aren’t perfect, but never Lie. Ask. For. Help.
  3. Be patient with yourself, don’t lose sight of why you do what you do and who you are. There’s a learning curve for Residents, Fellows and Attendings alike. There are days of frustration and it can be easy to lose sight of Purpose, take time to reflect on this and return to what brought you to where you are today.
  4. Keep in touch with mentors, don’t burn your bridges. Another blog post to come on this, but I cannot stress enough how important it has been to stay in touch with mentors. For advice, references and also solace in knowing I don’t know anything.
  5. Not everyone will like you, hold your ground, but you ARE being watched and are NOT immune to judgement. Moving from job to job, I have had pushback from people that don’t know me purely because they don’t know me. I have had hospital CEOs and administration watch my movement and my interactions with patients and peers at an acuity even more than those with permanent jobs; i’m on a shorter string and have accelerated my understanding of hospital grading systems, patient satisfaction and overall the expectations of the people I work with and for. While it never supersedes my medical decision-making, Big Brother keeps me on my toes.
  6. Live like a resident. Rent. Budget. Be conservative with vacations, large purchases and eating out. Grow into your money SLOWLY. Don’t be the stereotypical, although somewhat less common now that we talk about it so much, doctor that graduates residency, quintuples his/her income and buys a fancy car diving further into debt.
  7. Know yourself and then invest in that self. Max out your retirement. Start an exercise routine. Return to hobbies you’ve lost. Set goals. Focus on relationships that you’ve forgotten, neglected or newly established. All that self-care/wellness stuff, blah blah blah – but really, drink some water.
  8. Learn about Finance. This is one of the most important things in my opinion, and something that is as proportionately not focused on in most medical schools and residency programs. Hopefully, I’ll have the tools and knowledge to write another post on this but overall investments, emergency funds, disability and taxes all play into the accumulation and consolidation of wealth (The White Coat Investor: 10 Financial Tips for New Attendings). Find ways to make your money work for itself.
  9. Update insurances, certifications and licenses; organization is key. GET DISABILITY insurance, think of it as a protection, not a cost. You don’t need it, until you need it, and then you better have it. GET TERM LIFE insurance, if you have people that would be affected financially by your death. Keep your documents in order, remember when licenses and certifications are close to expiring, do your CME, get a freaking calendar.
  10. Get a Contract Attorney! Do not be the fool that skips this step and gets stuck in an awful contract with no vacation, horrible hours or binding rules or non-competes that leave you unhappy and a prisoner. You worked hard to be where you are but you are not all-knowing. It is worth the $500 to have someone experienced in contracts find ways to save or make you $5000.

The most critical aspects about being a New Doctor are in my opinion humility, self-improvement, perseverance and light-heartedness. The most useful keys to success in my opinion are Affability, Availability, Ability, Adaptability and Aggressiveness. Someone that knows everything but is liked by nobody is just as periled as someone that knows nothing but is liked by everybody. Remember that you specialized in Medicine, not (most-likely or most-commonly) in business, finance or law. Consult those that know more than you, you are not omniscient.

Most importantly, Have Fun, you’re a freaking Doctor.

White Coat Investor
Huffpost Invest in Yourself

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