Creating the Best Version of Yourself

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Hello Aspiring Physicians!

Happy Spring! Hope you are all well and continuing the daily grind on your way to becoming a doctor. I have had many of you reach out with questions, guidance, milestones, disappointments, frustrations and successes. I am so grateful and honored to be in a position to help you out the best I can. Speaking and listening to you all helps me to reflect on my training and the ups and downs that I experienced.

Today, I wanted to talk about becoming the best version of yourself. You will come across many mentors during your training. And some of them may be fellow classmates or maybe a resident who you rotated with or even an attending. What I realized during my training is that I took qualities of excellence from each of my mentors and incorporated them into my practice. By gathering all the good wisdom and talents that you see in others throughout your training you too will become the best version of yourself.

I will give you a couple of examples on my end:

Patient Communication: When I was in medical school, I knew that I wanted to go into surgery. So I decided to rotate through all of the surgical specialities. One of the them was vascular surgery. The majority but not all of the surgeries are pretty long. I was involved in a couple of bypass surgeries that took over 12 hours. In addition, many of the patients had complex issues where they really need to be counseled on their lifestyle. I was very fortunate to get partnered with one of the fellows who ran that service. I was able to watch him interact with his patients before and after surgery and his bedside manner was amazing. Most people think that surgeon do not know how to communicate or do not spend enough time with their patients – but he was different. His communication skills were unbelievable. How he spoke to patients was amazing – never in a condescending tone and always used medical terms that they could understand. He just had that touch. I try to emulate or imitate his bedside manner with every patient interaction. And it works.

Composure under pressure: When I was in residency, one of my mentors, was an orthopedic trauma surgeon. His main procedure was fixation of the acetabulum or the hip socket. Some of these procedures can be very tricky and dangerous as you are drilling and dissecting around important nerves, veins and arteries. If you are not careful and precise then theses procedures can go bad very quickly. I learned so much being involved in theses surgeries with him. The composure that he exhibited and not losing focus was fascinating. If something did go wrong, there was no throwing of instruments or getting mad at OR personnel – there was just a step back and moving on to plan B. And everything was a teaching moment which made it even better. I think at some point in your career whether you become a surgeon or not, there will be those moments when it gets very tense and the pressure seems suffocating but being able to take that step back, take a deep breath and keep moving has been tremendously valuable in my career.

Discipline: When I was in fellowship, one of my mentors always told me “Pay attention to the little details, because it’s all about the details”. I don’t know how many times he told me but it is engrained in my brain. His fanatical discipline was unmatched. He is known as one of the best surgeons in my field and I know why. When we were in surgery together, his attention to details made a tough surgery look like a piece of cake. And the teaching point wasn’t to pay attention to the details, the teaching point was that you have to practice perfecting those details to get better. And that’s what I do. I practice until I can do it in my sleep. That ability to pay attention to details but to perfect it has made me a better surgeon and ultimately helped my patients.

So your goal is to identify those mentors who have inspired you during your training and watch them closely. Do not passively observe them. Take command and immerse yourself in their excellence.

As always keep studying hard and putting in that work. You can do it!

Sincerely,

Your Med Mentor