Friday, June 26, 2020

To incoming interns: the harder one is usually the right one

Dr. Glenn Wakam, surgical resident at the University of Michigan, gives five tips to incoming interns. These are gems.

#1 Ask for help. Call your chief. The goal is to be safe, not right. The value this enforces is humility—a cornerstone of the “new” surgical personality.
#2 If you come to the fork in the road and their (sic) are two choices, the harder one is usually the right one. Get out of bed and check on the patient. This is integrity: doing the right thing.
#3 Lean into your education. The difference between being passive vs leaning in could be as much as 2-fold. This doesn’t mean working longer, it means making the most of the time you are working.
#4 Learn to apologize. If you have a bad interaction, and you are not your best self, don’t fall into the trap of blaming someone else, e.g., “that was a dumb consult”. You will be tired and stressed, and you will snap at someone. This job is hard. Go back and apologize.
#5 It’s never too early to think about leadership. You will be leading a team soon. Pay attention to team dynamics and prepare. Always look out for the most vulnerable team members.

The culture of your team will be yours. You will own it. Prepare for it.

No. 2 tip is so true. There were days during training when, as I went to bed, I'd realize I didn't do a complete physical exam (forgot the rectal exam or crammed the cranial nerve exam) or I missed out on a crucial diagnostic test. Because I lived in a hospital dorm during residency, it was easy to go back to the patient's bedside and do all those things. I don't regret the moments when I went back.

The worst thing a doctor can tell himself is, "What if I'd done better?" If you're in medicine, doing your best is the smartest, kindest thing to do for your patients and for yourself—you will sleep soundly. You'll end up tired, even exhausted—but it's the good kind.

"The harder one is usually the right one." Thanks for these wise words, Dr. Wakam!



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