What I REALLY Teach My Residents and Medical Students

I had great mentors throughout medical school and residency – I was often too aloof and lost in my own stress to enjoy and understand what they had to offer, and was too tunnel visioned in many ways, but they were truly invested and helpful. However, I know that on a day-to-day, I often felt throughout my training so much focus, rightfully so, just on the science and the process of medicine. The other subtext was missing. There is so much that goes into being a Physician and I personally believe we should treat the process as so with our didactics and the way we work with our learners. As a locum tenens provider, I am all over the country mainly in small areas that don’t have lots of learners, but from time to time i’m in facilities with training programs and it has made me realize how much I miss this facet of medicine. Anyone can read a book, not everyone can discuss what goes in to writing the book and selling it. Especially after jumping into a Brand New World as a locum tenens, my sphere and view of the world has changed more in 2 years than it did in 10 years surrounded by the safety net of urban medicine.

  1. Every time you meet someone they will know something you do not. You may be the smartest person in a room, but you will never know the most.
  2. Find the oldest nurse in the hospital, listen to her or him, respect their experiences. If you’re on their good side, they will die for you; if you’re on their bad side, you won’t last a day.
  3. Remember why you do this, you’re here to save lives. When it’s 3AM and you’re getting woken up or you’re in clinic and faced with a frustrating non-compliant patient, remember why you do this. You do this to help people, to save lives.
  4. Think about money, but don’t spend it. So many doctors are awful at business, it’s a well known truth. I’ve been lucky to be humble in my money management and end up spending less than 10% of my income on all expenses, bills and frivolities. Don’t use your first check on an Audi, grow very slowly into your money. Build wealth.
  5. Learn who to trust, when you can walk and when you need to run. I always know that when a certain few of my team call me and say they are worried, that I need to be worried too; and, sometimes which ones don’t worry about enough. As a locum tenens this is one of my biggest challenges in discovering the strengths and weaknesses of each of my coworkers.
  6. Basic science is your coup de grâce and what sets you aside from other providers if you can dive deep into those days you thought you wasted studying for a test. I can find actual tangible relevance for the Krebs cycle, my understanding of functional residual capacity guides principles of neonatal resuscitation, and becoming a master of physiology helps me to translate it to patients in easier terms.
  7. If you’re early you’re on time, if you’re on time you’re late, if you’re late you’re f******” – My highschool teacher. HOW is it rocket science to show up on time, I’ve never understood this. As a learner this is one of the few things you need to do; as an Attending, me showing up late is rude to those i’m relieving.
  8. This might be everyday for you, but for someone else this is the most vulnerable time of their lives. Tread lightly. I often forget how foreign the hospital is to those that have never been to it.
  9. The point of medical training is to know you know nothing, and humbly try to change that. The biggest mistake I think any of us can make is thinking we know everything. I firmly believe that the reason for so much education is to learn just how much there is left to know. Basically, I’m a little anti-“I did my own research”……
  10. Get. A. Contract. Attorney. Enough said.

I have a lot to learn. I’m reminded by this everyday. But hopefully the few things I’ve learned I can pass on. Being a Doctor is much more than what people think it is.

Cover Image Credits: https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Right_to_education

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