Advice to a new class of young doctors

Updated: Nov 13, 2018

It is herculean enough to study in order to meet the criteria in order to get into medical school. It is bad enough that, in order to graduate, you needed to keep your games up. Worst still is the fact that when you graduate, the game changes. The change is however, not as much as to study techniques alone; but a whole lots of things come to bear. Your human skills then become relevant.

People do not care whether or not you had time to develop your interactive skills when, in earnest desire to obtain the prestigious degree, MBBS, you ignored relationships and buried your mind into the texts and attending ward rounds. But now, how well you perform is not judged by how much anatomy you know, or how much of complex physiology you understand; or how much of pharmacological interacting drugs you could explain to the patients and other medical team. Your communication skills, time keeping, team working etc start to be judged. How absurd! But its so true!

The foregoing therefore, lays the foundation for the current write-up.

In reality, when you went around in the wards and saw or clerk patients, you were developing some of the skills; but these were not what you were being assessed on. Most of the assessments were based on how well you knew the subject. How much of the learnt materials could be downloaded in the examination hall and hence the grade of pass. But discussions regarding what your trainers should or should not have done does not arise; as you are now handed the responsibility to care for the lives of fellow humans. A new style of aptitude then has to be in place, in order that you are able to utilise your cerebral skills to advantage.

My advice thus would be as follows:

1. Greet and introduce your encounters/patients as though they are your friends. Put up a smile, call your colleagues and nurses by names. It creates team bonding.

2. Interact with colleagues - I know that the work will be overwhelming in the initial periods post graduation; but it is not going to be easier. Therefore, take time off the massive amount of work to be done and have a coffee or tea, as the case may be.

3. Do not skip your meals. The drive to get stuff done and do so quickly can get you off the track and at worse, skip your meals. This becomes counterproductive, as you then become irritable, develop headaches and become more forgetful and even angry. These "low sugar" symptoms then leads to a vicious cycle of poor performance. If you nourish yourself well, so will you be able to appreciate the nourishment of those you care for.

4. Treat work around the patients as irritants. Suppose that you have an irritation within your eyes of nostril, what would your immediate reaction be? I guess, to get it sorted immediately. The difference between successful doctors and unsuccessful ones is their attitudes to patient care. If you want to sort it as it comes, then it would not build up to a complication. Act on that abnormal pulse rate before a full blown abnormality results.

5. The last advice is, never serve your ego. Make it a duty to serve people, otherwise your life would be miserable. This is because most of your professional life is about service to humanity anyway; so you can as well make it your "home".

Thank you very much and look forward to your comments regarding this post.

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