Doctors: You are setting the bar wherever you go

When I was in training, the rule was: See one, do one, teach one. That was the rule for everything. It could be starting an arterial line, suturing a wound, dictating an operative report. No doubt, that rule is still in play. But now, the playing field has changed.

Could you be sending out the wrong message? Demonstrating a poor way to proceed? Before you say “No way!” — Think about this:

Have you ever seen a member of your staff do something not very desirable, and yet vaguely familiar?

Have you ever had a toddler in your family utter a very loud cuss word at a restaurant or religious gathering and know they heard that from you?

Have you seen your frustration with one event, such as a delay in starting surgery, ripple down to the rest of the team?

I’m right there with you.

In our role as physicians and health care providers, we are setting the bar wherever we go. That means we must be mindful of the way we approach our daily lives.

Here’s what I mean:

Patients take their cues from us. If we’re calm, they will likely be calm. And the opposite is true.

Staff look to us for guidance. If we go the extra mile for others, they will see that as “how it’s done” and follow our lead.

Our family responds to our energy in the same way as patients and staff. What type of “spin” we use as we describe our day can influence the rest of our evening.

Knowing the power that you have in how everyone else’s day can go, as well as your own, is critical.

Starla Fitch is an ophthalmologist, speaker, and personal coach. She blogs at Love Medicine Again and is the author of Remedy for Burnout: 7 Prescriptions Doctors Use to Find Meaning in Medicine. She can also be reached on Twitter @StarlaFitchMD.

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