Medical school prepares doctors for patient care: perform a history and physical, based on the findings consider the next diagnostic tests to order, review all data and develop a treatment plan. By graduation from medical school and training you’re skilled to perform those duties with a certain level of competency and confidence.
Success in next phase of this journey and the rest of your life depends on honing those skills and acquiring new ones. This is where the gap exists for many doctors. Many doctors continue to rely on the skills and strategies learned in medical school and the ones they picked up in training, and fail to develop a plan for life long learning where they purposefully master proven skills and strategies to create predictable success for their life and career.
Doctors are struggling, getting discouraged, and feeling like you’re not cut out for this because of:
- Not fully understanding that the skills acquired in medical school, such as solid study habits, commitment to the tasks, and strong work ethic are the foundation. They are the skills upon which to build. It is not where you are meant to stay. Physicians are struggling because they’re not honing their current skills nor developing new skills to complement their new level of achievement.
Doctors are struggling, getting discouraged, and feel overwhelmed because:
- You haven’t tapped into life skills to support you as you meet with the challenges in medicine. Sure you have baseline coping skills. We all do. But we experience life in ways that other people just don’t. As doctors we are asked to confront poor prognosis and even life and death in one exam room with all the emotional triggers that accompany it, then move on to the next exam room to give another patient better news with a smile. And we are expected to do it in less than 15 minutes with little time to recalibrate our own emotions and energy. Effectively navigating this means having daily practices in place that support your emotional and spiritual well-being. Most doctors either don’t know the importance or haven’t invested the time to develop this area.
Doctors are struggling, getting discouraged, and have low self-confidence because:
- You haven’t nurtured your people skills so that you can effectively interact with the team. Communication skills, setting clear boundaries, delegating appropriate tasks to the right team member, and giving praise so team members feel heard and valued are all skills that must be nurtured throughout your career and life. As a result of not taking the time to hone and master these skills, doctors experience breakdown in communication, frustration when expectations are not met, decreased effectiveness and productivity, and even delays in patient care.
Putting It In Practice: A Doctor’s Case Study
I was called to the bedside to re-intubate a neonate. Upon arrival to the bedside I quickly assessed the patient who was stable as the provider was providing bag-mask ventilation. The patient’s vital signs were stable. It was the team that needed resuscitation. They were focused on a change in practice in the unit that they had not been informed of. After a quick assessment of the situation it was clear the best interest of the patient could only be served by calmly refocusing the team. Roles and responsibilities for the re-intubation were defined and assigned. The patient was easily re-intubated and placed comfortably in the isolette. After the procedure I thanked each member for their contribution and acknowledged their frustration about the uninformed change in the unit. The patient remained stable for the rest of the shift.
The great news is these are all skills that can be learned and mastered and it doesn’t require a lot of additional time. It requires the willingness to acknowledge your strengths and use your strengths as the foundation for further growth and development. It requires the willingness to suspend judgment when challenges arise.
When doctors and other medical professionals master these skills, the team functions like a well-rehearsed orchestra. Every team member feels valued. There is nothing that feels as great as when the team is in sync and patient care is well executed. It is truly something to aspire to achieve.
About Dr. Stephanie
Dr. Stephanie Wellington is a physician, international speaker, coach, and founder of Nurturing MDs where she helps physicians infuse new energy into the practical steps of building a life and medical career so they own their value, recognize their strengths, balance their life. She trained at New York University in Pediatrics and Neonatal Medicine and continues to live in New York with her 2 children. Get access to Define It To Find It: 5 Pillars For Physician Well-being at www.NurturingMDs.com.