Top 10 Do's and Don'ts in Medical Practice: Advice For Younger Colleagues
I was recently asked to give a talk to our county medical society about mentorship to some of our younger colleagues. After careful deliberation, and considering all the mistakes I have made, I came up with a top 10 list of do's and don'ts:
- Always look both ways when crossing a one-way street. A certain amount of paranoia may be healthy in the current environment of our medical field. Never assume anything. Listen to that "inner voice."
- The first rule of pediatrics: never disagree with a mother with regard to her child. The mother is almost always right. "Should I give Johnny some extra fluids?" "Yes, I was just going to suggest that!"
- Respect the chain of command. I stole this one from the Army. Make your life easy for the person above you, and be nice to the person below you. Remember the old saying: see one, do one, teach one. Learn from the person above you. Be a "go-getter" for your superior, and he/she will be more likely to teach you. Be nice to the person below you; you can teach them a lot.
- Expect the unexpected. Plan for the chaos. But also take care of your family. Take a day off on special occasions. It takes the stress out of it. Without fail, all hell breaks loose when you are trying to get home early for your spouse's birthday.
- Do not yell at the nurses. (It doesn't work). Inject a bit of humor at the right time. My least favorite call is the 3 a.m. page: "Doctor, Mr. Jones needs a diet order." Now I have two choices. If I yell at the nurse for such a menial page, I will make an enemy for life (the nurse), I get worked up and cannot get back to sleep, and Mr. Jones is still hungry! On the other hand, I might say: "I recommend the lobster bisque, followed by pheasant under glass paired with a nice chardonnay, and finish with some crème brûlée." After falling off his/her chair from laughter, he/she announces that the hospital is all out of it. I then order a regular diet, I go back to sleep and everyone is happy.
- Don't get stuck on stupid. I also stole this one from the Army. Do not keep trying things that are not working. For example, don't try to dilate a severely calcified lesion with a balloon – get the Rotoblator out!
- The M+M rule: never miss a meal or a meeting. I learned this from my surgery friends. You never know when you will be up all night working, so fuel up when you have a chance. Go to all the meetings you are supposed to go to ... If you don't take care of business, someone else will.
- Don't be afraid to say "I don't know." No one knows everything. Ask questions if you don't know something. Tell the patient: "I don't know about that subject, but I will inquire and get an answer for you."
- Be honest with your patients, but be diplomatic. For instance, never use curse words. Don't call your patient "fat." You might say: "Mr. Johnson, you are above your ideal body weight. Let's revisit your diet and exercise program."
- Always try to get in the last Thank You!
This article was authored by George J. Linsenmeyer III, MD, FACC, governor of ACC's West Virginia Chapter.