Our Best Advice for Newly-Matched Med Students
By YPS Past President John Corker, MD, FACEP, with bonus input from our YPS leadership crew
Congratulations and welcome to the finest, most useful and exciting specialty in the House of Medicine! You are joining the ranks of the chosen few who vow to help every patient, everywhere, every time, without any guarantee of being paid for your service. We are the life-saving specialists who just happen to know the second-most about everything else. This is our badge of honor. We represent both the front door and the safety net of American medicine, and you have proven that you have what it takes to step up to this unique responsibility and thrive. We are excited to have you join us!
As you prepare for some of the most challenging and rewarding years of your life, here are my 10 best tips. Keep reading for additional advice from fellow YPS leaders.
- Show up early.
- Listen to your nurses. Respect and help them. We cannot do this without them.
- Every single patient who comes to see us is having a bad day—sometimes it’s their worst day. Try to do something to make their day a little better.
- Challenge yourself to pick up sick patients AND provide comprehensive care to those who simply had no other option.
- You don't have to know all the answers, but you must know where to find them. Never be afraid to say, "I don't know," and always follow that by asking for help. Having humility is part of our duty to our patients.
- This is a marathon, not a sprint. Take it one shift at a time, and take care of yourself in between. You are wanted, needed, and valued.
- Feed and ambulate your patients. These are two basic, indispensable functions required for safe discharge.
- Accept the transfer. It doesn't matter what someone else "should" be able to handle. If someone is asking for your help, they are telling you that they are uncomfortable caring for that patient. And that patient deserves a physician who is confident in caring for them.
- Our duty and our promise to every patient is to ensure their safety. While doing so, we must try our hardest, in a compassionate and medically appropriate manner, to make them feel better and find an answer for their presenting complaint. However, while we must always ensure the former, we cannot guarantee either of these last two items.
- Hang in there – the attending life is amazing!
[Emergency medicine] is still a rewarding career. You will definitely work hard in medical school and residency, but you will make some of the best friendships in your life. You were on the same boat, so you really aren’t missing out on other things in life. Don’t be afraid to get married or start a family. Everyone makes it work somehow. Even with the changes going on with insurance and reimbursement issues, we still make a good livable salary, and most physicians still enjoy what they do. You will also always have a job because people are always sick and needing care… I still feel rewarded every day at my job.
- Jessica Best, MD, YPS Past President
Here's my list:
- Don't worry about studying before you start residency. You'll be taught what you need to know, I promise. You've worked 20 years or more to get to this point. Enjoy your well-deserved rest and make some memories.
- If you use Twitter, look up the hashtag #tipsfornewdocs for intern pearls through the ages.
- My first day as an intern, I was scared to order Tylenol without looking up LFTs. It's ok to be scared—that's part of the journey.
- If you're getting scared that emergency medicine is not for you, know that it is super easy to find your niche. You'll find your family; hopefully it's us!
- Puneet Gupta, MD, FACEP, YPS Past President
Utilize your nursing staff and include them in developing your plan for your patients. Medicine is a team sport, and asking their perspective will help you catch things you might have overlooked.
- Maggie Moran, MD, YPS Legislative Advisor
- Residency isn’t meant to be easy. You shouldn’t be miserable, but the goal is to be as well-prepared for practice as possible, and that means you must see a lot of patients and learn a lot of pathology. If this is the hardest things ever will be (which I hope is true for you), then imagine how great your career will be!
- Be nice to consultants. No matter how they treat you, remember that befriending them can make your job easier. Ask about their kids, hobbies, how their day is going— if they like you, you’re more likely to be able to slide easy admissions past them or get them to show up to the ED faster when needed.
- Your attendings are not there to be your bestie. Their job is to make sure that you take the best care of patients possible. Accept feedback, both positive and negative, even when it’s hard to hear. Remember, it’s not personal; at the end of the day, they want to make you a better doctor. That said, if you feel that you’re truly being abused or that someone is targeting you for something inherent about your personhood, bring it to your PD or a supportive mentor immediately.
- Jordan Warchol, MD, Past YPS Legislative Advisor