This will be my last Vitals column as the national president of the Committee of Interns and Residents. The next edition of CIR Vitals will be addressed by the new president, soon to be elected. I will complete my term in May 2013. It has been an honor to serve CIR members, my hospital, my colleagues, their families, and our patients during the last seven years with CIR. I can only hope that the changes I have helped to bring about at the University of New Mexico will continue to positively affect the lives of doctors and patients.
I humbly thank all the resident leaders at UNM whom I learned from and worked closely with.
The leadership, team building and negotiation skills that I have learned with
CIR are invaluable to my future success as a physician champion for change. I am
prepared to lead the way as many CIR alumni do. Below you will find some hard
lessons I learned – things that I think residents and fellows need to do more
often, so that we can make our hospitals and clinics a better place for patients and for learning.
1. Give constructive, real-time feedback. Don’t save your compliments and constructive criticisms for evaluations every six months. Let those who you work with understand what they are doing well and what they could do better. Face-to-face communication in the appropriate setting goes a long way to building great relationships and improving the way work gets done. Choose your criticisms carefully: for every critique you should provide three compliments.
2. If you see something, say something. There are a lot of skeletons that lurk behind the scenes when it comes to medical mistakes, work-hour violations, medical ethics and academic competition. Patient safety and professional integrity is something we all should hang our white coats on. It is not always comfortable to speak up, but it is the only way that change occurs.
3. Take the extra time to connect with your patients and their families on an emotional level so that they know that you really care about their health.
4. Be part of a team. We work with a lot of professionals in all areas of the healthcare system. They have all spent a long time learning and working toward their respective areas of expertise. Spend time to learn from health professionals around you. They will make you a better doctor.
5. Give respect, get respect. Everybody in our field works hard. Hard work breeds fatigue. Fatigue breeds attitude. Attitude breaches respect. Make sure to address your basic needs of sleep, nutrition, harmonious relationships, and exercise so that you can be your best to everyone around you.
6. Make every second count. I found that with staff support, timely information and the collective strength of thousands of other physicians, CIR allowed me to strategically use my time to maximize my impact.