The Ultimate Rules for New Doctors

Ever wish you could tap into the communal knowledge of every doctor on social media to glean their top tips, so you don’t have to make the same rookie mistakes they did?

We’ve examined the top performing posts on Twitter under #TipsForNewDoctors to bring new doctors, fellows and residents the ultimate advice on how to survive and thrive as a new doctor.

1. Practice the Art of Self Care

Sumit Patel‏ @S_P_MD  Jul 8

As trained caring professionals, don’t look on self-care as ‘selfish’ but essential to avoid burnout, moral distress, compassion fatigue, and poor clinical decisions which adversely affect patient care. Find out what gives you sustenance and renews you and go there often.

Strategies for personal self-care include:

  • Prioritising close relationships such as those with family
  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by ensuring adequate sleep, regular exercise, and time for vacations
  • Fostering recreational activities and hobbies
  • Practicing mindfulness and meditation
  • Pursuing spiritual development.

A widely available instrument called the Wellness Wheel refers to 6 types of wellness – physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, social and occupational – and allows individuals to reflect on current life balance and self-care. Individuals using such a tool can improve job satisfaction and overall well-being, reducing the likelihood of stress and burnout.

Getting adequate sleep for a new doctor is particularly challenging, especially when the prevailing culture is one of extended-duration shifts and sleep deprivation. It’s a well-known rite of passage for doctors to work extremely — and dangerously — long hours during their residency.

The consequences of sleep deprivation among doctors are real and serious including medical errors, adverse events and attentional failures.

The overwhelming majority of people need something in the range of 6-8 hours of sleep per night in order to function at our best. Our individual need for sleep is a genetically-determined characteristic.

One study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research concluded that quality of sleep is more important than quantity of sleep when it comes to feeling rested and rejuvenated.

Dr. Nitun Verma, MD, a Stanford University trained specialist in sleep medicine and Medical Director of the Washington Township Center for Sleep Disorders in Fremont, has come up with some tips to help you improve the quality of your sleep so you’ll need less in the long-term.

Gavin Preston, M.D.‏ @GavinPrestonMD  Jul 9

Essentially, with sleep, it’s a case of grabbing it where you can and ensuring every hour counts.

Medicine is your major. Try to have a “minor” – at least one other important activity in your life. This could be an interest of a medical nature (advocacy, volunteerism, blogging etc.) or not (a musical instrument, sport, travel or other hobby pursuit.) Having a minor offers balance and enrichment, and will make you a better doctor.

2. Everyone is a source of knowledge: Be Humble and Willing to Ask for Help

Liz Gleeson‏ @RunLiz  Jul 1

Befriend nurses – they can be your greatest ally.

مدونة طالب طب سعودي @_SaudiMed  Jul 1

Don’t ever be dismissive of a nurse’s opinion but learn to listen carefully to feedback. Nurses do seem to be doing it all – they take histories, examine, request investigations, cannulate, interpret results, diagnose, suture, perform minor operations, manage caseloads, and discharge patients. Remember they can be perils (dangerous if alienated) or pearls (of wisdom) if treated with respect and reverence. Teamwork is the new mantra in healthcare and forming strong working relationships with the nurses that are caring for your patients is a vital component in patient care. Ensure you are cultivating an environment where two-way communication and mutual feedback thrive. Engaging them on their thoughts of the patient case as well as getting their angle on how the patient is reacting to your choice of medical interventions will most certainly improve patient care. Go beyond functional relationships to foster rapport.

Sam Ghali‏ @EM_RESUS Jul 3

Rafael Cabrales‏ @rafacabrales Jun 29

3. Don’t Expect Gratitude: Some Patients May Hate You

Jason Silverman‏ @DrJSilverman  Jul 1

“As a new doctor, you will meet a patient who hates you. Maybe your patient is sexist or racist; maybe he disrespects you; maybe you share completely different worldviews. You will also have to deal with the feeling of disliking someone you are supposed to be caring for. It’s a rotten feeling you must learn to manage”. – Stat News, “You’ll mess up but save the day: advice to new doctors as they start work as interns”.

You will need to learn to handle abuse from patients and caregivers. Any real or perceived “deficiency of service” can provoke verbal abuse or in extreme cases violent assault on healthcare professionals. You will need to ascertain what has caused upset while encouraging the patient/caregiver to stay calm. Use language like “I am sorry that you’re upset, let me see how we can address this”.  Sometimes the simplest approaches are the most effective. Look to empathise with patients who are under stress when they are hospitalised or are angry because they’ve waited hours for medical care. At the same time, patients must realise that health care professionals are doing the best they can with an overtaxed health care system and should never resort to violence or abuse. Conflict-management techniques and training can help cool even the tensest of situations.

4. This is about taking care of people.

Roxana Daneshjou‏ @RoxanaDaneshjou  Jun 20

In this tweet, Stanford MD Roxana Daneshjou links to an article where she shares her medical intern lessons on patient care.

Struggling to stay up-to-speed in your field? Check out the new Medit app to discover the best in curated content and what your can learn from your fellow residents.

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