Saturday, June 30, 2012

Lessons of a Young Doctor!

First Day and Last Day of Residency
This post is meant for everyone, not just the new doctors in the world...please read, maybe everyone will get a small glimpse into the life of a doctor. (Also, I included some photo out-takes from the last 3 years!)

As another chapter in my life comes to a close, I try to look back and reflect upon what lessons I have learned and what life experiences I have gained. As a result, most of these lessons are useful not only to the recently-graduated physicians, but also to the public as a whole. The last three years of my internal medicine residency have probably been the best of my life. Not only did I grow in my knowledge as a physician but also grew as a person. I  have learned when to speak up and when to shut up, who can be trusted and who cannot, and that true friends will stick with you through thick and thin.
2 am helicopter transport with 
my patient. This was first night 
I could honestly say that I
single-handedly saved a life.
I will NEVER forget it.
Always follow your instincts!

The life of a doctor is no easy one. We usually treat our patients before we take care of ourselves or our family. While we would probably never wake up at 2 am to run to our neighbors house if they were sick, we will go to the hospital at 2 am because a complete stranger is having a heart attack. Not only are we mentally and physically challenged, but EMOTIONALLY challenged, every single day. Having to tell a daughter that she has lost her mother will NEVER get easier, no matter how many times you do it. We cry, we laugh, and we are the shoulder that gets leaned on.

Love what you do!
The hospital staff will see us more than any of our outside friends and relatives. These relationships are extremely important, and a young doctor will soon learn that these relationships will make or break you. Understand that not everyone will like you, and that is okay, but try your hardest to, at the very least, earn the respect of everyone around you. You do not know everything, and if you think you do, just quit now. The best doctors are the ones that know their boundaries and are not afraid to ask for help, from anyone. The nurse has placed a thousand more foley's and IV's than you, so when she says something is wrong, it probably is.

Keep an appearance that
you would like your
doctor to have!
Be kind, be humble and be understanding. You will lose your temper, but apologies will typically calm any anger you may have caused. Comb your damn hair and iron your clothes and lab coat. Guys- wear a tie that doesn't have a ranch dressing stain. No one likes a sloppy looking doctor. Smile. Try not to yawn in front of a patient, even if you only got 1 hour of sleep. What patient wants to actually KNOW that the person who is taking care of them only got 1 hour of sleep? (I got yelled at once for this and never forgot it). You will get asked seemingly stupid questions, by everyone. Smile, answer them (even if you have to answer them 4 times) and laugh about it later. It's better to get asked a stupid question then for a stupid mistake to get made! 
Always smiling.

You will disagree with other doctors, but know your place. At the same time, question everything. If you don't know, ask. NEVER assume that the person you are speaking with is correct. If there is any doubt, look it up, and then your inner conscience will jump up and down when you prove them wrong..:)

It's okay to be upset that someone can sue you for hundreds of thousands of dollars for a mistake. I have never, ever, seen a doctor do anything intentionally to harm a patient, but mistakes or no mistakes, the government allows for frivolous lawsuits. We need to work together to change this, because honestly, it is getting completely out of control. Our government wants to lower the price of healthcare, right? Then they should stop allowing these lawsuits to happen! You will order far more tests and labs then you probably need to because you are afraid of getting sued, and you know what... until laws change, everyone else will be doing it too...and the cost of healthcare will thus stay high. The more you go through training, the more you will realize that you will probably never be compensated to the extent that you feel like you should be, get over it. 

We are expected to be a psychologist, dietician, personal trainer, family member, friend and mentor. If you don't know how to be any one of these, start learning. Answer every question a patient or family member has fully. Do not ever seem rushed, even if you are. You will always do the right thing if you treat a patient the way you would treat your mother.

Miracles happen, just when you least expect them.

And last but not least...Never underestimate the power of a hug. Never.


  1. i just read this and thank you for writing and sharing! If only more people not only doctors had your kind of passion. Its super refreshing. I'd take you as my doc any day. ;)

  2. Greetings from Scott Colton, director of medical communications and public relations for NSU's College of Osteopathic Medicine.

    I read the post you placed on the college's Facebook page and was quite impressed. In fact, I would like to publish it in the winter 2013 issue of COM Outlook if you grant me permission to do so. I think many COM Outlook readers would find the article to be quite enlightening.

    All the best,

    Scott Colton, B.A., APR
    COM/HPD Director of Medical Communications and Public Relations

  3. Scott,

    That would be perfectly fine! Thank you for your support!

    -Dr. T