Health professionals in training face personal, and professional learning challenges that are not elements of formal curricula; medical errors, difficult patients, verbal or physical abuse, requests for unethical acts, disagreements with superiors, and personal burnout, among others.
We are a group of senior physicians who have been engaged in the education of residents in internal medicine for many years, giving them timely advice about the professional and personal challenges they face during their training.
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During 2017, I was fortunate to interview several current and former Senior Advisors from the Advisory Center for Health Professionals. Though all advisors are experienced, respected academicians, each brings his or her own unique advice to navigating a fulfilling career in medicine. Below are a series of quotes that distill some of the key pieces of advice offered by our Senior Advisors to current trainees.
“It’s OK to say ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I need help.’”
“Step back a moment a realize how extraordinarily privileged you are both educationally and professionally.”
“Get a good mentor. You really need somebody who is interested in you as a human being and not interested in you as an employee. They need to ask you ‘what do you want to be when you’re all grown up?’ and help you achieve what you want.”
by Dr. Anubodh “Sunny” Varshney
Harvey Weinstein ousted. Matt Lauer fired. Al Franken resigned. The #MeToo silence breakers named Time Magazine Person of the Year. A large shift has occurred in our culture, and it should reach to the hospital wards and clinic offices. It’s time to talk about #MedicineToo.
I was called to admit a patient with a chronic suprapubic Foley, vague symptoms, and a dirty urinalysis . My medical student saw him first, and together we agreed that he more likely had colonization than a true infection. I went to see the patient to tell him he was going to be discharged.
He gave me weird vibes during the history, and when I examined his catheter site, he told me he was having testicular symptoms and asked if I could do a testicular exam. I thought it was strange my male medical student or the ED providers hadn’t mentioned this, but I performed the exam which was normal. During the exam, the patient grabbed my ID tag and gave his opinions on my current appearance (beautiful) in contrast to my ID picture (ugly). I felt uncomfortable, mumbled something, and left the room.
by Dr. Danielle Wallace
by Dr. Elizabeth Harry
Our world is ever more driven by sophisticated technology. Our patients’ illnesses are defined by their laboratory results and advanced imaging techniques. But for me, my biggest thrill as an internist is when someone uses nothing more than their eyes to make a diagnosis that truly changes everything!
An elderly male with a history of ischemic cardiomyopathy and chronic kidney disease was admitted by his cardiologist due to shortness of breath and a recurrent large pleural effusion. He underwent a therapeutic thoracentesis and was aggressively diuresed. Persistent severe systolic dysfunction led to placement of a defibrillator. The morning after the procedure, the housestaff observed large ecchymosis around both eyes that they attributed to the tape that had been applied for eye protection during the procedure.
by Dr. Donna Astiz