Passing Along Our Wisdom to the Next Generation of MDs

One MD implores his generation of fellow “senior clinicians” to take a leadership role in guiding younger docs and helping them with their careers.

Until a recent chat with a young college graduate about to embark on a MD/PhD program, I never realized that my clinical experience over the last 25 years could be helpful. Our conversation lasted over an hour as I told her about the twists and turns of my career path, which started down the academic road, until I found myself in solo practice in 1991. In 2007, I formed a group practice with another colleague to expand our range of services. Since then, through challenges such as EHRs, performance improvement measures, meaningful use, and managing a larger organization, we have continued to maintain our focus on putting the patient first and maintaining our financial viability.

From my conversation, two issues stood out. First, most of the authority figures in medicine, which I had admired over the years, have been replaced by people my age. Second, as the landscape changes in medicine, newly minted physicians need experienced clinicians to reinforce the critical components that will guide future decision making about their careers. 

Practicing physicians experience the joy of clinical medicine daily, which drives us to always do the best for our patients. This road is cluttered with many obstacles. Training of physicians has always been replete with tremendous didactic and clinical demands, but rarely focuses on the practice aspects of clinical medicine. Every residency or fellowship training program should incorporate a course in present day practice management. Trainees should have a glimpse of day-to-day life in any practice setting in which patients are seen.

Unfortunately, it appears that academic institutions are not asking us to help with this critical piece of training. Our medical societies, however, can call on training programs to incorporate our knowledge of “real practice” for the benefit of the millennial generation’s best and brightest. My recent conversation sparked the idea that my generation of senior clinicians has a great deal to offer the next generation, and it is our time to take up the mantle of responsibility to pass that experience along.