One Thing Burned Out Doctors Can Learn Now


In case you haven’t noticed, we’ve passed the July first mark again on the calendar. There’s a whole bunch of urban legends and true stories about what goes on in the first few weeks of internship and residency for our new doctors.

I think we may have it backwards, when it comes to our concern about new doctors and their July starting date.

Here’s what I mean by that:

We need to review what we can learn from the new kids on the block.

Sure, they may not be able to recite the Krebs cycle or start an arterial line in five minutes. But they can teach us things we’ve likely forgotten over the past few years.

How do I know?

Last week, I heard from one of my clients, Mark, who just started his residency in the emergency medicine department of a busy hospital in the southwest. He’s capable, eager, and graduated from one of the top medical schools in the country, at the head of his class.

On his second day, a young pregnant woman came in, a victim of a hit-and-run, with multiple injuries and fetal distress signs in her baby. The woman was the same age as Mark’s older sister, with the same blond hair, caked in blood. It caught him off guard.

As he supported the team that sprung into action, he told me he had a hard time focusing on all the medical issues going on. The woman’s husband was by her side, anxious and afraid.

Mark tried to process all that was going on and lend a capable hand to the team. He noticed some of the attending physicians were also visibly shaken by the woman’s injuries. Others were instructing the young doctors on protocol, procedures and problem solving.

What Mark discovered is this:

It all matters.

Every bit of it.

  • What actions we take as the patient enters the space
  • How we acknowledge the family members and their concerns
  • How we stay present to be the best provider of care at that moment in time

It’s not about us at all. But it is about how we interpret things. What we think, say and do in the first 5 minutes of each patient encounter is critical.

Mark’s story showed me the importance of first impressions.

And the first impressions are not so much about the new doctors and their abilities.

But about our openness to learn from them.





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