Expert-Recommended Resolutions for Medical Education in 2019

Ryan Syrek, MA


December 27, 2018

Resolve to know and care for yourself

Really study yourself. You are the lens through which you experience the world, and you need to observe your inner workings. What motivates you and makes you feel engaged and satisfied? How do you respond to sleep deprivation, caffeine, exercise, and praise, or lack thereof? Also study how people respond to you, your moods, and your style of inquiry and see whether you can impact those responses by trying out different behaviors. You don't operate in a vacuum. You will be surprised that a great deal of progress hinges on human factors and the ability to manage yourself. The more you know yourself and can manage your inner workings, the better chances you will have of being effective as you move through your career.

This must be balanced with essential self-care. In training, there can be moments of humiliation and shame, such as when you don't know the answer to a question and a less than sympathetic attending calls you out publicly. Putting yourself aside is expected in a profession that is regarded as a calling to serve, but ignoring the warning signs of depression or getting caught up in maintaining the illusion of perfection is a mistake. Physicians such as Adam Hill, who identifies as a human being first, then a father and husband, and only then as a physician, speak out about the persistent stigma toward depression and other mental health issues within the medical profession. Develop a self-care plan and a support group you can trust early in your career. Recognize that you are human and have human needs. Get a little extra sleep when you can. Take care of your body. Strive to keep self-critical thoughts to a minimum.

Sarah Averill, MD

Resolve to be a role model

Maintain balance and a healthy lifestyle, both to avoid burnout as well as to serve as a role model to your current and future patients. Evidence suggests that clinicians who practice what they preach are more effective at counseling their patients to adopt or maintain healthy lifestyle behaviors, such as good nutrition, stress reduction, and mental and physical fitness.

Shiv M. Gaglani, MBA

Resolve not to lose yourself in a sea of white coats

Unfortunately, the process of medical education continues to share many similarities with military training. It tends to foster conformity, rule-following, and strict and outdated notions of what a doctor should look like and how they should behave. It can be easy to lose aspects of your individuality as you go through medical training. However, it's essential to try not to lose touch with all of the very things that make you awesome. Embrace your individuality and your humanity. Remember why you went into medicine in the first place. I recommend actually writing the reason down and keeping it handy at all times. Be different and be proud!

It's a wonderful and beautiful thing to dedicate your life to healing others. Studying medicine and one day being a physician are very important aspects of your life. However, medicine is not everything! You may be tempted to sacrifice such things as your hobbies, your friends, and your family in the pursuit of becoming a physician. This is a very bad idea. The aspects of your life outside of medicine are what makes you who YOU are! Feed your passions, try to avoid medical tunnel vision, and remember that life is much bigger than medical training and being a doctor. There is an entire beautiful world outside of medicine: Embrace and enjoy it!

Kendra L. Campbell, MD


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