From Sam - A Lesson

As a junior doctor I was terrified of making a mistake. Given at that time I also knew next to nothing about medicine, this was a bad combination!

Doctor and patient

At one point I was teamed up with a junior doctor, one year my senior, called Michelle. Michelle was incredibly intelligent, to me she knew everything, but unlike many of her colleagues she also had a lot of fun.

While she took her job seriously, she didn’t take herself too seriously. She was happy to have a laugh at her own expense, she always had time to help others, and she was universally liked.

She made me realise that having fun and being a doctor weren’t mutually exclusive, and in fact they were complementary.

I remember back in med school being taught that the doctors who had less complaints weren’t the best doctors, they were the ones who were liked the most. This didn’t make sense at the time, surely delivering the best care was the most important factor???

But think about it, as doctors we all make mistakes, sometimes even mistakes that kill people. It’s human nature that we aren’t perfect, it’s just that as doctors the stakes are ultra high. So if we all make mistakes, why don’t we all get complaints? Because if as a patient you’ve created an emotional connection to your doctor then you are more likely to give them the benefit of the doubt.

6% of doctors are responsible for 70% of malpractice claims. That’s a sobering statistic. But think about the doctors you've worked with and I bet you can pick the one in twenty that is most likely to have complaints, because they are the one that patients and colleagues fear.

Michelle is now a dual specialty physician and she’s still having a lot of fun and is universally liked. She is having a great career both from the perspective of enjoying herself and being a great doctor. Thanks Michelle for the lesson.

As a junior doctor I was terrified of making a mistake. Given at that time I also knew next to nothing about medicine, this was a bad combination!

Doctor and patient

At one point I was teamed up with a junior doctor, one year my senior, called Michelle. Michelle was incredibly intelligent, to me she knew everything, but unlike many of her colleagues she also had a lot of fun.

While she took her job seriously, she didn’t take herself too seriously. She was happy to have a laugh at her own expense, she always had time to help others, and she was universally liked.

She made me realise that having fun and being a doctor weren’t mutually exclusive, and in fact they were complementary.

I remember back in med school being taught that the doctors who had less complaints weren’t the best doctors, they were the ones who were liked the most. This didn’t make sense at the time, surely delivering the best care was the most important factor???

But think about it, as doctors we all make mistakes, sometimes even mistakes that kill people. It’s human nature that we aren’t perfect, it’s just that as doctors the stakes are ultra high. So if we all make mistakes, why don’t we all get complaints? Because if as a patient you’ve created an emotional connection to your doctor then you are more likely to give them the benefit of the doubt.

6% of doctors are responsible for 70% of malpractice claims. That’s a sobering statistic. But think about the doctors you've worked with and I bet you can pick the one in twenty that is most likely to have complaints, because they are the one that patients and colleagues fear.

Michelle is now a dual specialty physician and she’s still having a lot of fun and is universally liked. She is having a great career both from the perspective of enjoying herself and being a great doctor. Thanks Michelle for the lesson.

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