Good advice — the kind that sticks with you and serves you well — is priceless. We asked physicians and clinical staff to share the best career-related guidance they ever received. Here's what they said.
1. "'Embrace it.' It can be the 15-minute break because a patient no-showed, or the opportunity to educate a physician over the phone on a tough case. You can see it as a negative or you can see the silver lining. Embracing it keeps you from losing it on a daily basis." — Melissa Young, MD
2. "'The patient comes first.' Sounds elementary but it's complex ... We can be self-absorbed, distracted, or hurried. We can be financially incentivized or temporally disincentivized to address a patient or caregiver's concern. If one remembers that the patient comes first, errors will decrease and human interaction will flourish in a time of 'technology first.'" — David Lee Scher, MD, digital health technology consultant.
3. "'Teach back.' When trying to ensure your patients understand their situation or care plan, ask them to tell you how they'd explain it to another family member who was not present. This is more productive than 'Do you have any questions?' (Automatic answer: 'No') or 'Do you understand?' (Automatic answer: 'Yes')." — Marcia Levetown, MD
4. "'Meditate twice a day and you will improve your health, stress levels, and increase your energy' — and he was 100 percent correct, still do it two times a day even five years later." —Audrey "Christie" McLaughlin, RN
5. "Take a look at what the masses of society are doing ... and then, do the opposite." — Craig Koniver, MD
6. "In this era of electronic medical records, with doctors reduced to being mere scribes facing the computer keyboard instead of the patient, I always recall what I was taught when in training, words in fact from Sir William Osler: 'Listen to the patient! He/she is telling you what is wrong with them.' This forces the doctor to focus on the heart of the problem and not get bogged down in peripheral details." — Richard Bensinger, MD
7. "My 80-year-old partner said to me, 'If you can't resolve a patient's concerns in two visits it's time to get a second opinion.'" — Christopher H. Tashjian, MD
8. "Listen to your patient. Let him/her tell you the story of their illness. If you take the time to do this, they will tell you their diagnosis." — S. Michael Ross, MD
9. "The best advice was from my dad who said to treat all my patients like an extended family. In Hawaii, especially rural Hawaii, the family is a very important cohesive factor in our lives … It makes my patients feel like they really belong to a 'medical home.' And for me, it's great to see family on a daily basis. That's why my job as a pediatrician never gets boring ... I'm always with family..." — Wes Sugai, MD
Marisa Torrieri is an associate editor for Physicians Practice. She can be reached at [email protected].
Aubrey Westgate is an associate editor for Physicians Practice. She can be reached at [email protected]
This article originally appeared in the February 2013 issue of Physicians Practice.