Be Mindful Early in Your Anesthesiologist Career
If you are just starting out in your anesthesiologist career you will quickly realize there is a lot to learn beyond what your extensive schooling has taught. Both clinical and personal, there are plenty of tips, tricks and good ol’ common sense principles a young anesthesia specialist should keep in mind as you begin your professional medical career to maximize your performance and personal fulfillment.
We’ll start by stating a concept that is simple but true… when you agree to any project, task or assignment, commit to finishing it on time while working to the best of your ability, under-promise and over-deliver. This with the tips below will serve you well in building your character and reputation.
Be Prepared – In anesthesia, this means always be prepared for airway difficulties and other complications by mentally reviewing your Plan B and your Plan C.
Make Learning Your No. 1 Priority – Seize every opportunity to learn while a resident and benefit from having someone supervising.
Ask for Help – Never hesitate to ask for help or to have a more experienced colleague in with you at the start of a tough case.
Keep Sharp – Keep your knowledge up-to-date and your technical skills sharp.
Get a Mentor – Things that seem fun during residency for a rotation or two may seem much different after you do it for six months and someone you see eye-to-eye with can help you through challenges and changes.
Active Participation – Early on in your career, consider becoming an active member of one or more professional societies.
Have a Good Financial Plan – Do not worry about every dollar, but be careful and save.
Learning to Trust Your Patients
Most doctors can attest to patients fibbing and even going to some lengths to hide relevant information. When asked why they lie to their physicians, patients said they wanted their doctors to think highly of them and not judge or lecture them. And patients seem to think their performances are convincing: 70% of women and 65% of men said they were confident their doctors do not know when they lie.
Maybe you have heard this one, “I’ve done everything you told me to, but…” The subject patients most often lie about is compliance, according to a 2018 study of more than 1,200 people by Medicare Advantage. Some 38% admitted they were not truthful about following their doctor’s orders. 50% say the reason they won’t tell you is they are simply embarrassed while another 30% said they lied because the full story was too complicated or not worth explaining.
A 2020 TermLife2Go study of 500 people found that nearly half (46%) of respondents lied to their doctor about smoking. The same goes for recreational drug use while men are much more likely to lie about how much they drink than women.
Overstating how much they exercise is also one of the top fibs people tell their doctors. As many as 43% of your patients may be lying to you about their exercise routines, exaggerating the frequency or intensity of their activity.
Patients may not realize the potential dangers of omitting information about medications and supplements they’re taking. A 2019 survey revealed that patients didn’t want to be “difficult” or waste their doctor’s time, even if it means giving you incomplete information about medications that could lead to medical errors.
The most likely liars statistically are women, younger people, and those in poor health. Both sexes are more likely to lie to a male doctor than a female doctor. Bear in mind that more than 33% didn’t tell their doctor if they disagreed with their advice, and a similar number didn’t say anything if they didn’t understand treatment instructions. By providing a welcoming, judgment-free approach, you can encourage patients to be more honest about their symptoms and be proactive in their steps toward better health.
Know What Not to Say
Every physician knows the importance of the doctor-patient relationship. Without trust and honest communication, outcomes can be worse and caring for patients may be extremely difficult. However, many doctors overestimate their ability to connect with those in their care. One study found 75% of doctors surveyed believed their discussions with patients were satisfactory, but just 21% of patients surveyed agreed.
In order to provide the best care for your patients and protect yourself from litigation, be intentional when communicating with patients—and here are a few statements to try to stay away from.
- “I don’t know.” Although you might mean that medical science has yet to find an answer to the patient’s specific question, instead say something more reassuring like, “I don’t know at the moment, but we will find out for you.”
- “You should have come in to see me sooner.” This may make the patient feel blamed and shamed about something they can’t go back and change. Instead, recognize the patient’s barriers to treatment.
- “The Internet isn’t your doctor, I am.” About 72% of Americans have searched online for health information, and when a patient comes in with a stack of printouts from a medical website, it can be tempting to immediately dismiss their online findings. Instead, tell them you appreciate their taking the time to learn about their condition and initiate a discussion about what concerns them from their online research and find gentle ways to explain if some of their conclusions are unlikely.
- “Don’t worry about that right now.” This can be scary and overwhelming to hear as it minimizes their concerns. To avoid this anxiety, be as transparent as possible with the patient. Explain to them that their concerns are important, but together, you’ll need to focus on other, more urgent issues.
- “This won’t hurt at all.” Everyone has a different pain threshold, so it’s unwise to suggest anyone will completely avoid pain during a given procedure. Instead, explain that most people find the procedure to be painless.
Just as important as what you say is how you say it. Even if you’re feeling rushed, do your best to speak calmly, slowly, and clearly, avoiding too much medical jargon. Show your patients you’re listening closely by staying silent as they speak and try not to interrupt them.
Your career will go surprisingly quickly… make it count! Never discount your dreams or what you really want to do and treat everyone well along the way. And always remember, do your best to support your younger colleagues coming up behind you!
As Your Career Begins, Remember This … anesthesiologynews.com
Top Lies Patients Tell Their Doctors. healthgrades.com
6 Things Never to Say to Patients. healthgrades.com