OR What I wished someone told me when I was about to graduate.
Congratulations, welcome to the world of medicine. Does it seem a little belated? After all you have been licensed anywhere for 2 to 5 years depending on your specialty, you graduated from medical school and have been officially a doctor for 3 to 6 years, not to mention the 4 years of medical school before that. So while I grant you it seems a little belated, it is not. You are now officially on your own. There is no back up.
For the last 6 months or so you have been counting down the days, the nights on call, weekends on call, or some variation until you were done. You have taken board exams, presented research and have either had a graduation or are about to have a graduation that is not quite like the ones from medical school and college, but they are still nice, and they are still a big deal. (I seemed to have forgotten that, and didn’t think to invite my parents to mine. Whoops) But you have been counting down the days until your time in now your time and you don’t have to answer to anyone else.
And a funny thing happens, the moment you graduate, you instantly become one of us. In a way you weren’t before. Those that are staying close to the program that they graduated from will find it a little more amazing the change from resident to the next morning ATTENDING. And for the easy stuff it is amazing. Ear infections, I got that. Hypertension, well I will use my favorite ACE or beta blocker. You have bronchitis, and you will be super doctor until “What the heck is that?” Well that is what you will be thinking, and you will have to stop yourself from saying “I am going to grab my attending to come in here and look at that.” Because you no longer have an attending you are the attending. So you will pull out your books or go online to your favorite site and you will figure out to your best opinion what it is. And if you are right, you will be a hero, and if you are wrong well they will either return and you will try something else, or they will go somewhere else. You are now the EXPERT.
But don’t think that you are alone. I made that mistake. The profession is quite willing to help its fellow physicians, you only have to ask. Which EMR is best, ask. Most are more than willing to let you look at their systems and try them out. You need help with a case in the hospital, you can either officially or unofficially consult one of your colleagues, we love being asked for advice from fellow physicians. Just don’t ask investment advice, some are really good at it, and some are really bad, best to find a financial advisor on your own.
Make sure you have a good accountant, a good lawyer and a good relationship with a bank. Seems silly, but those will save you time and again especially if you are starting out on your own. Rare now a days. I did it 7 years ago, and it is probably due to the accountant and bank that I am still standing. You didn’t go to business school, you went to medical school, but school and residency failed to teach you about the business of medicine. And it is a business. You want to get an MBA, great idea in a few years. The first couple you need to work on getting your feet wet in the medical field. So surround yourself with a great support staff.
Your spouse/significant other who went through all of this with you, was not trained in billing and coding for the most part. So if they are going to run your business, they need to get trained. While the motivation is their (It’s their money too) the knowledge may be lacking and you are probably not qualified enough to teach them. They need to either get some training or hire someone who is trained.
Take time off. No not the first month, but you cannot go constantly. It does not serve you and it does not improve the care you provide to your patient. And all of your patients are going to get sick and they are all going to be mad that you left them when they were the sickest ever, but that first day back your lobby will be filled because that guy down the street that was covering you, just doesn’t know what they are doing.
And if you are at the program you trained at DO NOT ever in that first year use the line. “When I was a resident…” Most of the program was just a resident with you, and it loses its meaning when they can come back and say, “You were a resident just last month.” My fourth year in medical school, I witnessed that from one of the new attending, who went around saying that. You can say it after everyone who was ever in residency with you has graduated, but until then, they knew you in residency.
And if you use that line don’t follow it with something ridiculous like “I would have liked to get up at 2 am and do an H&P if my attending would have asked me to.”
No you wouldn’t have, and you didn’t like it. You complained to your fellow resident the next day. There are crappy things that residents have to do because they are learning and are residents don’t insult them by pretending they aren’t. And remember you were once a resident, don’t just abuse them because you can. It doesn’t make you a better doctor among your colleagues. It just makes you an ass.
This list is far from exhaustive, and I am sure if I had time I could keep going, but I don’t and this blog is getting a little long. So congratulations on your achievements and hard work. And welcome to the club. You membership fees are now due. (This is only half a joke, you have no idea how expensive it becomes to keep all these groups fees paid)