Ten Tips From “Old” Nurses to” New” Doctors

July 1st is the day that people often joke about not getting sick on this day. Why? Because this is when all newly graduated physicians take to the floors for the first time. It is not only a big day for new “MD’s” but for every physician in training. They all bump up to the next year of seniority and take on new responsibilities that they weren’t responsible for yesterday! (This advice is to all new physicians from their nurse-friends)
1. We respect and admire you for all of the hard work you have put into becoming a physician!
2. We know that you did not inherit your degree. We also know that you know more about a lot of stuff that seasoned physicians may not know because you are brand new! By now you do know the big difference between book smarts and life smarts. Both are crucial.
3. Ask questions, we won’t think that you’re weak or not smart; we’ll think that you are on the road to becoming a wise physician.
4. Your MD degree tells us a lot about the role you will be fulfilling in healthcare but it does not tell us about who you are as a person.
5. We all have to prove ourselves; proving who we are and what we’re made of insures that your patients will receive care that will demand that you keep up and you will be judged every day of your career. It can also be unfortunate because though there will be far fewer “do-over’s” in patient care.
6. We are a team. We will watch your back. We also expect that you will help us to do our jobs better, and more safely. Looking out for someone when it looks like they might be struggling, for any reason. It is not hyperbole to say that success as a team saves lives. Ours and the patients we serve.
7. It’s OK that we disagree with each other. It will only be in speaking to each other honestly that our patients will receive the best care possible. We will respect your being up to your neck in alligators if you respect that if we tell you that you are needed immediately for another patient. Trust that we see the big picture and another patient’s condition is more critical than whatever you are doing right now.
8. Respect goes both ways. We will try to get to your order’s, your patients needs as soon as we can and we expect that you will respond to ours just as we know that you get back to us as soon as you can. If you see us standing around talking, and if we see you standing around talking, we’ll give each other the benefit of doubt that we are conferencing about a patient, not goofing off.
9. We care for you as a person. And love it when you want to be a part of our unit’s activities. We don’t want to ignore you, or bug you when a holiday is coming up or it’s someone’s going away party by asking you to sign-up for a pot-luck item. If you see a sign-up sheet or hear staff talking about being on for a holiday, and you are too, offer to bring something in. Find a place close to where you live, or work, that’s open long hours and bring in chips, soft drinks anything – even for no reason at all. It sounds silly but we all do bond by eating and laughing together. You won’t know this for a long time to come, but when you look back at holidays when you were stuck working, it will make you smile as you grabbed a piece of ham or turkey and ate it from an emesis basis in between doing some disgusting procedure.
10. Lastly, compliments and a genuine thank you mean the world to us. We can often thank each other with a look or pat on the back – but if you go the extra yard and compliment us to a patient or to our bosses, this can change an awful, crappy shift in an instant and make us feel valued and recharged. We will do the same to you because we already know that when the patient feels like they have “one of the best doctors coming in to see you” that this vote of confidence reduces angst and sets the stage for a doctor-patient interaction that will end well!

Juliana Adams
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