Being a Doctor is Like Working in Customer Service

I feel like as a doctor, part of my job is customer service.  Because when I see inpatients, a lot of the time when I ask at the end of seeing them if there’s anything else I can do for them, they have a complaint about their call button taking too long to be answered, the food being bad, their roommate being too loud, etc.I try to handle the complaints best I can.  I never ignore them.  I say something like, “I’m so sorry that happened.  Let me see what I can do to fix it.” Then I tell them my plan, which involves anything from talking to the nursing supervisor about nursing issues or to the unit coordinator to get them a room change.  I can’t personally fix the problem, but at least I try to show I’m taking it seriously and addressing it. It’s made me a lot less tolerant of bad customer service. Recently, I got an email at 6PM from our leasing office, saying that tomorrow (a holiday when kids were off from school), they were doing repairs and our water would be shut off intermittently “after 8AM.”  I was horrified.  We didn’t even have a day’s notice of this!  I was going to be home with the kids all day and how can you do anything at home when you don’t know if you’re...

Is My Specialty Research? Here’s What To Know

When you’re vying for an acceptance letter to your program of choice, doing research is just one of those boxes everyone tells you should check off to be able to fit into a crowd of almost doctors. In fact, test prep company Kaplan encourages students to prepare an answer if they are asked during their admission interview why they didn’t participate in research. Whether it is financial or time limitations, Kaplan advises students to have a prepared response to this question. Just to provide another perspective, during my admissions interviews, I was never once asked about the absence of research on my list of extra-curricular activities. No one ever asked me why I didn’t do research. (In case you’re wondering, I also did not do any community service, another “must have.”) In talking to my classmates (other admitted students), they were not asked about research. Doing research is important, certainly, for certain programs such as dual degree programs with a PhD. It may even be a requirement. But, I would not take the words “highly recommend” to mean “absolutely mandatory.” This is all to say that many pre-medical students think they should do research because it is highly regarded and provides an additional boost from an admissions perspective. I don’t think it matters so much that you conduct research as much as the value of the research to you...

How To Handle Your Most Ambitious Med School Classmate

Having trouble handling your most ambitious med school classmate? Here’s the 411 on medical school “Gunners”. I consider my desire to be liked by everyone to be a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because it forces me into being, well, the “best” version of myself with people. It’s a curse because of the inevitable sensitivity and the occasional times where I refuse to stand up for myself because I want to avoid conflict. Avoiding conflict is generally a good thing, but that doesn’t mean avoidance is the best way to approach problems. You have to learn to stand up for yourself, to be assertive; I don’t think anything really taught me this quite like dealing with medical school Gunners. Now let’s be clear: If you are in medical school at all, you are on the Gunner Spectrum. When I refer to Gunners in this context, I am referring to the person who always has to blurt out the answer, even if the question is directed at someone else. This person may consciously or unconsciously undermine you in front of an attending by correcting something you say about YOUR patient. This person may slip in to scrub in on YOUR surgery. This person is just overall very aggressive, can be condescending, and has no concept of the word “teamwork.” Ugh. Gunners. There are a few different ways to respond to...

Mental Health Can Affect Your Job Performance

Wildgoose undertook a survey to examine employees at 250 businesses across the UK and revealed that there is still a substantial stigma surrounding mental health at work. Of those surveyed who have taken a day off work, just under half admitted to calling in sick with a different complaint to the one they were actually suffering with. When compared with the responses of those who haven’t taken a day off work, 43% indicated that they would say nothing and carry on as normal if faced with mental health issues, whilst 4% stated they would call in with a different issue. NHS mental health nurse, psychotherapist and podcaster, Aimee Leigh suggests: “To combat stress, one must learn to be present and grounded in their bodies, through the use of the senses. “Developing a practice of mindfulness helps the mind become resilient. Managing stress by training the mind to focus on one point for sustained periods of time stops the mind fluctuating, racing and catastrophizing. “When a person isn’t caught up in their thoughts, they’re more able to be focused and productive. They’re also less emotionally reactive and more proactive, productive and efficient. “Higher priorities need to be placed on supporting staff emotionally in the workplace, with more education for staff around taking responsibility for their health and well-being.” The survey also highlights differences in absence across various groups and demographics. On average, women...

Why I Didn’t Do Family Medicine

Family Medicine might have been a better choice for me. I liked outpatient medicine much better than inpatient medicine. I like procedures, even pap smears. The hours are generally regular. Several people suggested family medicine as a good choice for me. Here’s why I decided against it: 1) Family medicine is very regional. In some parts of the country, many of the docs are family practitioners. In other parts of the country, there are few and they are not well respected. I trained in an area of the country where family medicine was not as common. Our family med sub-I was a disorganized joke. Almost all the people in my med school class who were interested in primary care did internal medicine or primary care residencies. Only a couple of people matched in Family Medicine. 2) I never wanted to deliver another baby for the rest of my life. 3) If I was overwhelmed by the idea of having to “know it all” in primary care, it’s even worse in family medicine, where you’re taking care of an even larger spectrum of patients. (Yes, you could restrict your practice, but you don’t always have that option.) 4) I worried that family med residency would be like a repeat of third year of med school, where you’re always in unfamiliar territory, always fumbling, and always the one who knows the...

How to Hack Your Work Week and Be More Productive

As doctors-in-training, we know we are smart. But somehow that intelligence doesn’t always directly translate to productivity. It is possible to work non-stop and try very hard, but still be ineffective and unproductive. The goal is to make it through medical training without burning out. In other words, in addition to students must learn to work smarter, not harder. How should we make the most of our work week? My biggest piece of advice is to conserve your energy. Misconception that you have to wake up early to get more done in the day. In fact, my personal experience and advice says otherwise. Sleep is imperative and naps are encouraged. In order to wake up early and be effective, you also have to sleep early. It is true that you can’t do everything perfectly all of the time, but cutting corners on your health and sacrificing your 8 hours. Your early morning power routine will come to a crashing halt if it does not include adequate sleep the night before. It is important to alter your routine to allow yourself to wind down. For example, it is best to avoid drinking coffee 6 hours before bedtime. Try to experiment and identify what helps you to fall asleep versus keeps you up at night. Some also advise against going to the gym at night, but I personally have not had...

What to Know About World Autism Day

Monday, April 2nd, 2018 is the 11th annual World Autism Day. Around the world, buildings and landmarks with shine will blue lights to raise awareness and increase recognition of those who live with autism. This will be followed by a month-long program of autism-friendly events that aim to foster acceptance and understanding. Light it Up Blue The Light it Up Blue initiative was started in 2010 by Autism Speaks. Last year, buildings, landmarks and businesses turned their lights blue to raise awareness. Over 170 countries participated on all 7 continents. While many view this day as an important way to raise awareness for autism, the initiative has engendered some controversy, with criticisms being aimed at the language of pathology used by Autism Speaks, as well as their financial standing as a charity. Many people, especially families of autistic children, would prefer to spread a message of acceptance for all who may be neurologically atypical, not just click-and-share social media “awareness.” Empowering Women and Girls with Autism Over at the United Nations, the General Assembly has adopted a resolution to observe World Autism Awareness Day with the message of “empowering women and girls with autism,” to focus on the way ways that gender dynamics and gender discrimination intersect with disability. Their resolution noted that women with disabilities have a lower rate of employment than both women without disabilities and men with disabilities. The...

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