Let It Go!

Talk about a gunner, I have a student that speaks as fast as he thinks and gets it done at an equally fast pace. He is both impressive and effective.

He approached me about building a new program at his medical school, and because I am from the old school, I essentially told him to “Build it and we will come.” And that is exactly what he did. He rallied together the team on the ground of stakeholders – department chairs, diversity deans, physicians and students – all of whom had a vested interest in being part of something new and meaningful for the sake of knowledge and diversity.

Four months after our first conversation was a well-executed and impactful interactive learning session for close to 50 students from NYC.

More importantly, in a very short period of time, we were able to start building a rapport with a new group of medical school leaders, department chairs and attendings and residents in ways that I could not have done on my own.

So there you have it, I took a risk in letting go of having to be the “one” to do it all, and in the end, a whole new set of possibilities have emerged.

I think I need to take more of this “Let it go!” medicine. Off to watch and will go and watch Frozen for the second time with my boys. Should’ve watched it sooner.☺

Nice Surprises

I pride myself in not letting too many things surprise me. Yes, this fairly cynical approach to current day existence allows me to stay closer to being on an even keel vs. vacillating with the constant variations of life.

The biggest and nicest surprise for me came from my now husband when he proposed after a relatively short 7-month courtship. While that was now almost 8 years ago, this was a true surprise that still makes me smile.

But just last week, I received two emails from students that showed me that my rants about character, consistency and communication are not falling on deaf ears. I had visited their school just the week prior, and was aghast that more of “my students” were not present at our lecture to give support and to share the benefits of their knowledge and experiences as Nth Dimensions Orthopaedic Summer Interns with their peers. Of course, I voiced my disappointment to the students that were present, expecting them to let it be known, but not expecting anything in return.

Lo and behold, not just one but two students followed up with me expressing 1) their apologies for not being present at the lecture and other events due to competing academic demands and so forth and 2) their renewed efforts to give back moving forward.

I so appreciated this, because I have been on the other side of this coin. I know that these guys are appreciative, but I know what it feels like to feel as if you have “no time to share” despite the importance of the content that you have to share.

I also know the relief of having the person on the other end be understanding of this, knowing that my heart was in the right place.

So thanks for the nice surprise. It’s energy that we can use moving forward, because “together, we are making a difference!”

Prayer Over Paper

Last night, I heard my son quoting to his little brother, “With great power comes great responsibility.” I asked him where he heard this, and he said, “Spiderman, Mommy. He says it all the time.” Out of the mouths of babes hold true once again.

My parallel for my students is, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” In this season of giving, I think that it is important to reflect on the people, paper and prayers that have helped us along the way.

People first, then money, then things are the priorities according to Suze Orman. I love this, but I would like to replace things with prayer. Then, I might reorder it- Prayer first, then people, then resources.  to take time to being appreciative and saying “thank you” first. I personally know that God has been the driver in my life with me as the passenger, and I receive subtle nudges when I start getting so busy with myself that I forget to stay grounded in this knowingness.

For my students, I have been known to show up to a lecture with a box of blank thank you cards and have the students fill them out right there in class with the expectation that they will mail them as soon as they leave. (I think I just have send a quick text next time! : -) The point is to emphasize the importance of expressing their appreciation, acknowledging that they did not get to where they are by themselves. There is always someone that we can or should have thanked for their support, kind word, prayers or helping hand along the way.  It’s time to mail the card.

Finally, we also have to thankful for the paper (aka money or resources) that have enabled us to get from point A to B. Whether it was enough or not, we should be thankful. Often when it wasn’t “enough”, necessity being the father of invention forced us to become creative and innovative, leading to solutions that were more rewarding than if the resources had just been given to us. I don’t know whether Nth Dimensions would have been able to support as many rising physicians as it has if I had remained in the operating room, making a fantastic salary, without the time to devote to our cause, the cause I was called for. So, for this I can be thankful for my diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis that was given to me at thirty, because 15 years later we have so much more to be thankful for.

With our great power, we have a responsibility to not just be, but to express appreciation, routinely and wholeheartedly.

More than a GPA

In 1999, Dr. Reede stated in a CORR article entitled, “Predictors of Success in Medicine” that, “Grade point averages and Medical College Admission Test scores probably provide little if any information regarding extremely important non-cognitive abilities such as interpersonal skills, personal integrity, and social consciousness.”

These non-cognitive abilities are those that I concentrate on when mentoring, teaching and coaching aspiring physicians. Why? Because I have seen these very abilities change a student’s trajectory, in both positive and devastatingly negative ways.

Correlating with Dr. Reede’s interpersonal skills, personal integrity and social consciousness, I relate the importance of maintaining one’s character, consistency and communication, the 3 C’s, while on the arduous and tumultuous path of becoming a physician. Giving ample attention to perfecting just one of these traits/habits alone is admirable, but in becoming a physician in the 21st century, focusing on but one of these areas can be tragic.

So, let’s take a student who is a brilliant academically, per the standardized test scores. Check! Regarding, the 3 C’s, this student is abreast of the latest social media outlets and has clearly developed communication skills. I would even state that this is a true strength.

However, that’s where it ends. Despite KNOWING that one’s character and consistency are paramount when seeking to aspire to the next level, making poor decisions, such as not being present for patient care, giving the same excuse repeatedly and not following specific directions demonstrate a questionable character and a lack of consistency.  I can’t say that I am surprised yet I am disappointed.

Herein lies my point. Each of the 3 C’s is important, both individually and collectively. More importantly, the 3 C’s are a package deal and should be an integral part of whom we strive to be as people, as physicians.