For the past two weeks we have had the privilege hearing from Dr. Marilyn Gates, our instructor for Medical Terminology. Dr. Marilyn Gates is an accomplished and experienced neurosurgeon who currently resides in New York. Usually our classes are conducted through Skype, but while on vacation in Belize, Dr. Gates taught us. Beyond medical terminology, one thing that I have appreciated about Dr. Gates is her wealth of experience. One particular example of this took place recently. It all began with Dr. Gates bringing our attention to the word “Cervical”. Cervical is a homophone in the world of medicine, where it can refer to a region of the spine or to a portion of the women’s reproductive tract. The root word means neck, but the distinction is made in the way the word is used. Dr. Gates began to share an experience with doing spinal cord procedures. This lead to an insightful conversation at the end of class concerning advice for the millennial generation of doctors. Here are 3 things to consider:
1) Be confident in what you know
Regardless of who your patient is, no one wants to be put into the hands of a physician who is unsure of themself. There is nothing wrong with not knowing. If you don’t know it, be honest enough to say so and responsible enough to find who does or how it can be determined. You want your patient to trust you. You are only an effective doctor if your patients can trust you. Trust is not simply given because you are intelligent, but by in your confidence. Carry yourself as such.
2) Learn to think and analyze
The millennial generation has grown up with an accessibility of the internet right at their finger tips. Though this resource has become instrumental in medical advancements, it still does not replace the need for physicians to be analytical and rationale. These basic principles are still what separates the good from the average.
3) Take pride in your work
As physicians you are in a position that people turn their lives over to you. This position should not be taken lightly or be seen in the same way that other people see their everyday 9-5 work. It’s not paperwork you are dealing with, it’s people. As a result, take pride in how you take care of people. Treat your patients like you would want a doctor to treat your parents or loved one. Go the extra mile. Be thoughtful in how you provide care. Learn not to just pass a test, but learn to know and apply. Do your due diligence and let excellence be your signature.
There is great wisdom in these three points that can be applied even during basic science. They are words that challenge your perception and productivity to allow you to become a better physician.