Doctors can’t do their jobs poorly. In some professions mistakes aren’t a big deal or can easily be corrected, but medicine is not one of these. If you make a wrong diagnosis a patient can end up with a bad outcome. The same thing happens if a surgeon makes a mistake or a wrong prescription is given. That’s why medicine is such a highly regarded career and why the process of becoming a doctor is so difficult. This isn’t to lessen the importance of other professions, but a mistake in medicine can cost a life. This is a fact that no one can deny.
Physicians need to make sure to always push themselves to become better and better. You can’t just stay where you are now and expect it to still be good enough for patients 5 years from now. By the time you graduated medical school the information you learned at the very beginning a lot of it has already been changed. Doctors will be students for the rest of their lives because there’s always more to learn and more ways to improve. Improvement isn’t just when it comes to being a good doctor, but also how you run your office and treat your patients. It’s important to keep assessing yourself and never being satisfied with the level you’ve reached in order to keep pushing yourself forward.
At the forefront of becoming a better doctor is knowing your medicine. Like we said, you can’t expect the information you read 15 or even 3 years ago to still be applicable today. It may have been proven wrong, it may have been modified, or occasionally it might still be the same and still supported. There are so many ways to stay up to date with all that’s new in the world of medicine. For starters there are textbooks. You can’t keep reading the same ones you had when you were a student. A new version of these textbooks comes out almost every year for a reason. You’re going to need a lot of time to go through textbooks though unless you skim over things that you know and pay attention to the things that are new to you. CMEs are another way of updating your knowledge. There are multiple ways to participate in CME activities. You could do them online or actually go to conferences where new data is being presented. Some CMEs are in the form of workshops where you can learn and practice new techniques by hand.
Another valuable tool is medical journals. If you’re not subscribed to and reading a couple of medical journals constantly at least in your specialty then you’re doing something wrong. A patient could read about a new treatment online and ask you about it. If you don’t read journals and aren’t up to date you could end up looking really bad because you’re unfamiliar with what the patient is talking about. So these are all tools at your disposal that can enable you to expand and update your medical knowledge and skills.
Doctors aren’t just there to prescribe drug names that are hard to pronounce, but also to help patients in other ways. Patients trust doctors like no one else and sometimes all they need is someone to talk to. Make sure you give patients enough time to talk and ask you questions. You should also show them that you’re there for them. Bad news can have very different impacts based on how it’s delivered. If you’re harsh and don’t care then your patient will definitely feel much worse. On the other hand if you’re compassionate and let your patient know that you’re there for them it could have a very positive impact on them. Never underestimate the value of having your patients’ trust. It can make a huge difference not just for them emotionally but also have an effect on their prognosis on how well you can diagnose and treat them.
There’s more to medicine and your practice than just you. There’s your office, how well your practice is doing, and your staff just to name a few. These are all things you need to manage correctly in order to achieve the best results both for you and your patients. First of all your office has to be easy to get to. If your patients are having a hard time getting to your location then that’s your fault for choosing a poor spot. You should also provide clear contact information so people don’t have trouble contacting your office. As for the place itself you need to make sure it’s very clean and tidy. You’ll want to make it as comfortable as possible for patients especially if you have long waiting times. Make sure you have some sort of entertainment and the more sun exposure your office can get the better.
If your patients complain of long waiting hours then you need to do something about it. See fewer patients per day or find a way to move things along faster without affecting the time spent with each patient. If a patient waits an hour to see you then it would be unacceptable for you to rush through their appointment in 5 or 10 minutes. You also need to pay close attention to your office staff. Take your time during the selection process in order to make sure you hire the right people. Your staff members reflect on you. If they’re unorganized and lazy then people will get the same impression of you. Make sure they correctly schedule appointments and are nice to patients. You don’t want someone at your office who causes trouble and has arguments with patients. They’ll simply end up leaving you and looking for another doctor.
Keep assessing yourself in order to identify areas where you need to improve. You could receive feedback from patients. Ask them how long they waited and if they felt like the time they spent with you was enough or if they would rather get more time with you. Of course you’ll be able to assess how well you’re doing from a clinical perspective based on whether or not patients are improving and their lab results. Another way to assess yourself is by timing how much time you spend with each patient. If you find yourself to be rushing through them then you should work on slowing it. On the other hand if you’re spending way too much time with each patient then you should hurry things up a little. Also keep track of how many CME activities you’re doing. Set a minimum number of activities to do per month. You should also make sure that you subscribe to a couple of journals and read them regularly. It can be hard to keep up with all of this, but if you want to continue being successful and for your patients to keep coming back to you then you have to keep moving forward and pushing yourself. Self assessment can be difficult but it’s not impossible.
No one said that being a doctor is easy. No one says that once you complete your residency things become easier. Yes, you make more money, but it doesn’t get easier. It can be argued that things get more difficult. You’re out on your own now. There are no teachers to guide you or tests to force you to study. Everything you do or choose not to do right now will have an impact on your career and the lives of your patients. So it’s up to you to motivate yourself. You can choose to keep working in order to get better which will be difficult but worth it, or you can choose to be satisfied with where you are which will eventually cause your decline as a doctor.