TOOLS FOR A SUCCESSFUL MEDICAL PRACTICE
Adaeze C. Ezeh, MBBS
As a medical doctor or a medic, especially in Nigeria, the society somewhat regards you as an extraordinary being. By passing the entrance exams or mentioning you are in a medical school, everyone already expects you to have answers to all their health-related questions. Technically, it is difficult to not have the belief that you are better than everyone else. Even as students we already have ego problems which can only get worse when the “DR.” is officially placed before our names.
If you intend to be a good doctor and not just a smart one, it is important you move in armed with the following tools:
The quality of not thinking you are better than others. It is the foundation of all virtues and easily mistaken as weakness or timidity.
A humble medic values everyone and recognise their worth. Patients can be treated efficiently only if you regard them as valuable.
You should be willing to serve others and make their lives better basically being altruistic at all times.
You should be ready to teach those below you without being arrogant( they already respect you and depending on you to make them as good as you). Name calling and destruction of self esteem is never justifiable and should be avoided.
As a medic, you should be willing to accept that you can be wrong and you don’t know it all, hence, endeavour to learn and improve yourself constantly.
The humble doctor never forgets that God is the real healer and he is merely a tool used by HIM.
The sympathetic awareness of someone else’s suffering with a desire to relieve it. Being compassionate and being an exceptional clinician are inextricably interwined. Compassion is a basic virtue which is very easy to lose even as a student. By the time you’ve witnessed lots of death and impending death in practice, it feels like the human mind adapts and consider these occurrences as normal. You may tend to start viewing patients as cases instead of what they really are: ailing humans.
Being a doctor should not rob you of your humanity. In as much as we may or may not influence a patient’s outcome, we should be empathetic and compassionate. we would make better clinicians if we feel, empathise or even mourn our patients.
As a medical practitioner, confidence in your skills and abilities is of paramount importance. Patients would prefer to meet doctors whom they deem confident and who are able to deliver on it.
Your self confidence would make them listen to you and do what you’ve asked them to do. At no point should you be diffident, however, you should also know your limits.
If you have students below you, you should help them grow their confidence and build their self esteem by criticizing their mistakes constructively instead of destructively, being gentle with them and not embarrassing them in front of their seniors, juniors or even the patients. Keep in mind, however, that there is a thin line between confidence and arrogance.
At some point in our careers, we would meet patients, and other healthcare workers that can be described as disagreeable. As human beings, the first instinct would be to snap at these people; bear in mind, however, that their behaviour sometimes isn’t their fault. If these Patients were in good health, they would not be presenting in the first place. So, irrespective of how stressed out you are as a doctor, be patient with them, make excuses for them; when they complain, apologise and reassure them even when it isn’t your fault; that way, the conversation would end faster and you would have a less angry patient at the end of the day.
This should be applied when teaching students, you should be willing to repeat yourself as many times as you can, because if they don’t learn it from you, they might never learn it from anyone and you can’t predict who their future patients would be.
STRONG WORK ETHIC:
In a disorganised society as ours, this may seem as an impossible task but to be successful in your medical career, you should disciplined at all times, ever ready to do whatever you have to do when you have to do it.
You should be punctual for your rounds, clinics, calls etc and you should be there till your shift ends.
If you have to monitor a patient, strong work ethic entails that you should be available for as long as you should be.
You should be 100% dedicated to your work irrespective of how tired you are or what is going on in your personal life.
You should be ever ready to face any new challenge diligently as it presents itself.
This list is inexhaustible and seemingly unachievable. Note, however, that in as much as perfection isn’t achieved in a day, if you are willing and determined, it is possible to pull off this feat.