Career advice for new grads: what they don’t teach in med school

shutterstock_183711890The longer you practice medicine, the more you realize you don’t learn everything you need to know in medical school.  Our physicians recently shared some words of wisdom for recent grads.  Here’s what they don’t teach in med school.  What would you add?

One physician said, “It is ironic and sad that the values in medical school are: Keep your head down, do what you are told, memorize everything, don’t question anything. Although there is a lot to learn, our system kind of self-selects for followers, and grooms them to continue to be followers. We need leaders, and we train followers/disciples.”

  • Play nice with everyone, not just your superiors. Nurses, techs, colleagues can make your life heaven or hell. A lot of what they choose is in your control.
  • Learn everything you can about the business of medicine.
  • When formulating a differential diagnosis put the most important on top and not the most common.
  • Find mentors.When they realize you respect them and listen to them they will answer your questions about the business end of things.Usually docs are not too forthcoming about business advice. “I had to learn this the hard way. Nobody told me what to do or not do”
  • Keep things as simple and streamlined as you can if on your own.The debt will add up quickly.
  • Never negotiate a contract on your own. You don’t know shit about contracts. Advice from an attorney with experience in health care contracts is worth the money.
  • Never, ever, forget why you are working: your family. Work and the time required should never trump plays, or soccer games or whatever. You can’t hit rewind or have a do-over. If you miss their childhood, you will be sad.
  • Document document document. Document who you talk to, when it was, date, time, and what was said. If I isn’t documented, it didn’t happen.


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