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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Recent Blog Contributions
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
“Mr. Jones, what I’m trying to say is that your kidneys are shutting down and I’m worried I can’t….”
***Ding Ding Ding *** Adult Code Team to Unit 616-00! Adult Code Team to Unit 616-00!
Perfect. Why wouldn’t there be a code during a hospice talk? My SubI took off at a sprint, dashing my usual plans of slowly jogging/getting lost so as not to be the first person at the code. Guess we were going for this one.
We ran into the room to 5 nurses waving their hands and shouting at me, “ HE’S DNR!!!! HE’S DNR!!!!” Wonderful! My favorite type of code: where we let 88-year-old men with more medical problems than you can count pass peacefully.
But wait? There was a respiratory therapist bagging the patient. Apparently, his very outdated MOLST said “no resuscitation, specifically no compressions OR intubation,” but the EMR and the attending progress note indicated he was DNR only. Other upper level residents helpfully offered to leave and go call the family, the attending, and maybe a stat ethics consult to help clear up the confusion. I was left at the head of the bed.
by Dr. Danielle Wallace
I was a novice intern on a night float rotation, called to pronounce a patient on the oncology floor. As a student, I had watched residents pronounce patients a few times and thought to myself, “I have this under control.” I took a look at the chart when I arrived on the floor: a 30 year-old woman who had recently been diagnosed with acute leukemia. She had begun induction chemotherapy and had developed severe pancytopenia. I grew a little uncomfortable. It didn’t seem like this death was anticipated. The nurse told me that the patient’s mother was with her. I approached the room, and stopped short at the doorway. There was the young woman, about my age, lying in the arms of her sobbing mother, holding her tight as if she could will her own life into her daughter’s limp body. I stepped back, a choking sensation in my throat and tears welling up in my eyes. After a few minutes, I thought I could control myself and entered the room. Standing there, I wasn’t sure what to do, and finally touched the mother’s shoulder and told her who I was. I struggled with what to say next and came out with a bleak, “I’m so sorry,” and began the ritual of checking for pulse, heart beat and respiration. I couldn’t think of what to say next, except another “I’m so sorry.” I stood there, tears welling up in my own eyes again and managed to say, “Is there anything I can do for you.” The mother shook her head, and I escaped from the room, tears streaming down my face.
by Dr. Donna Astiz