Advice to New Physicians

Experienced physicians are in the best position to offer newer physicians advice, perspective, and guidance. Read some seasoned physicians’ advice for those just starting out.

FIRST, STAY TRUE TO THE IDEALS that brought you to medicine in the first place. They will only make you a stronger physician. Second, never lose sight of the patient as an individual. When we’re new to medicine and so busy building the confidence and stamina we need, sometimes it’s easy to forget that the patient is a person. Third, get involved. This was hard for me to do when I was young. I wondered if my voice really mattered. It does. We need the excitement and enthusiasm of younger physicians as much as we need the wisdom of more experienced ones.
Melanie A. Story, MD, direct primary care physician at Genesis 1 Health, a private practice in Louisville, KY

MY ADVICE IS TO MAKE AN EFFORT to understand the business side of medicine. For example, young doctors employed by hospitals should get involved with the administration and take on leadership roles. That way, they can take part in the decision-making process that affects them as well as their colleagues. Understanding the business aspects of medicine allows young doctors to succeed in the constantly changing health care landscape.
Jae Y. Lee, MD, member of a 5-physician group practice in Warrenton, VA

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF, YOUR FAMILY, AND THE PEOPLE YOU WORK WITH, in that order. You’re of no use to your patients if you’re unhappy, burned out, overworked, or coming to work with anything less than enthusiasm, optimism, and a desire to help others. Be sure that you, the people you love, and your colleagues are all okay.
David Casarett, MD, chief of palliative care at Duke Health

A BIG DECISION FACING YOUNG PROVIDERS today is the choice between the risk of private practice and the more protected but less autonomous environment of the employed model. When you make this decision, ask yourself where you get the most joy out of practicing medicine and don’t concentrate as much on income issues. In addition, although employment will never offer the same level of independence as owning your own practice, there are still opportunities for leadership and management in employed positions.
Andrew O’Donnell, MD, regional medical director of Duke Primary Care, Wake County, NC

AFTER 37 YEARS OF PRACTICE in a small town, I’ve realized the relationships developed with your patients and their families are the constant that can provide continued satisfaction in your medical practice. The increasing demands of insurance companies and the government make it hard sometimes to keep perspective. If you are an independent practice, it’s worth spending extra to hire good business managers. Remember: patients interact with your staff much more than with you, so it’s important to develop a good team approach.
Harmon F. Patrick, MD, member of a 4-physician group practice in Winnsboro, SC