Back @ SDN...as a resident. One word of advice...

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Alejandro

Physician
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Hi all!

Many of you don't know me (wouldn't expect you to), but I used to post in the premed forums wwaaaaay back when I was applying, and I think I made a little personal statement thread that the mods have left as a sticky (**Thanks guys!**)

So I'm now an ER resident, just finished a month in the ICU (and switching over from nights to days). Last week I was reminiscing how 6 years ago I had the dream of going to med school and so forth. Now I get to live it. Don't get me wrong, its exhausting, and the system itself makes one easy to burn out. Patient care is great, but all of the administrative stuff makes you want to quit it all sometimes.

Thank you all who have helped me get to where I am now.

But, one thing I advise you all as you begin this journey...

Don't just look out for yourself. Give back. And thank those who have helped you get to where you are.

The reason why I say this is that as I'm a rising senior resident, I still mentor premeds and medstudents alike, and a lot of people talk about how "this generation sucks" because nobody is professional, everyone is entitled, and etc. Truth is, I sometimes feel that way too. Sometimes I get really upset because after working 14-15 hours straight, and a med student or premed tells me that they're too busy, basically implying that I need to "work on their schedule". Or sometimes when people just show up late when they wanted to meet up with me to get coffee. Or when professors and attendings alike complain about how a student was unprofessional and still wanted to get a letter of recommendation. All I wanna say is, just take some of these parts of life seriously. Some of you haven't had to do grown-up things yet, but it doesn't mean that it's an excuse to not be professional.

My other hints that I want to share:
-Thank your letter writers. They helped you get to where you are today, and where you're going tomorrow. Why is it so hard to thank someone? Faculty get a lot of satisfaction from this, and helps them continue what they're doing. You've asked them to spend at LEAST an hour or two out of their time (when they could've spent time with family, do a hobby, whatever), on a person they hardly know, just to help them on their 'personal quest' to become a physician (for whatever noble or non-noble reason). How would you like it if someone asked you to do something nice for them and it took up hours of your day, but they never even bothered to say thanks? Nobody gets an extra bonus check for writing your LOR. So be appreciative, (NO GIFTS plz) and tell them where you end up! Its the least you can do.

-Show up on time, and try to be flexible with your scheduling. Being assertive is great, and reaching out to people for advice, to meet up for coffee/tea is fine. But show up on time. You'd be surprised how for a majority of physicians, residents, and med students, are ALL very busy. Myself and others are sometimes skeptical how truly busy some people are...or...they're just too busy going to some party/function and don't want to skip out on it. Trust me, if you're willing to miss out something for your professional advancement for a party/social function...I just feel really sad to tell you that a majority of residents feel a sense of "missing out"...and if you as a premed feel that is non-negotiable...well, I don't know is medicine is the right specialty for you. While you might have a choice now, you won't later. (because you'll be buried in 250K in debt...)

-When you ask for an LOR, get all of your stuff together. CVs/Resumes, personal statements, transcripts. Make it look like you prepared. No mispellings, no haphazard crap. Why? Because nobody is pointing a gun to your head saying that if you don't apply now or this year, you will die. If you're not ready, then don't apply that year! A way I like to think of this is: Nobody sends their patient to the OR to be operated on if they're medically unfit for surgery (unless its trauma). You're only increasing their risk for a bad outcome. So, Mr./Ms. Premed-to-be-doctor, you're telling me you're gonna be the surgeon who cuts on an unstable patient? If the patient isn't ready for surgery, don't operate. If you're not ready to apply or ask for a letter, don't ask/apply. DO IT ONCE, DO IT RIGHT.

-Give back. Remember, you're here because other people 'volunteered' to help you get here, and the same will be once you go to med school and residency. I find it so paradoxical that so many premeds say they want to "help people" during their interviews yet they hardly ever take time to help others get to med school (especially since they JUST went through the process and are 'experts' in it!) once they get into med school. Sounds like a ridiculous hypocrisy, juss sayin.

Anyway, those are my two cents. If you guys wanna ask any questions about premed life, med school life, residency, whatever, PM me or just reply below. Best of luck to you all, I've been in your shoes once before. Its quite a journey! And still more to come.

Cheers,

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Great advice! Thank you so much for taking the time. However, I am just curious as to why no gifts when thanking someone for their contributions. I gave my instructors a thank you card and a small amount gift card when thanking them. Just for future reference, is that unprofessional? I thought if anything it would be nice to get a handwritten thank you from a student. Perhaps I'm wrong.
 
Great advice! Thank you so much for taking the time. However, I am just curious as to why no gifts when thanking someone for their contributions. I gave my instructors a thank you card and a small amount gift card when thanking them. Just for future reference, is that unprofessional? I thought if anything it would be nice to get a handwritten thank you from a student. Perhaps I'm wrong.

I’ve gotten some gifts from students and it’s weird. It’s not a barter system where I write a letter and you get me a gift. I write the letter because I want to. I don’t need anything in return—nice thank you cards are great, I put them in my office. But gifts cross a professional line (unless you genuinely become friends).


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Wow, I had no idea at all. Thank you for your insight! I'll definitely go with just the thank you cards for the future...
 
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Wow, I had no idea at all. Thank you for your insight! I'll definitely go with just the thank you cards for the future...

Yeah. Also, perhaps it’s different for men getting gifts, but I’m a woman, and the vast majority of my students (this being Ortho) are male. If they give me gifts, it adds another layer of weirdness that I don’t need in my life. In surgery we walk a fine line—especially in my field, there’s tons of flirting and cursing and making fun of people, and other “unprofessional” behaviors on a daily basis—between me and my partners it’s a free-for-all. But when there is a power differential, especially with students (not so much residents), there can be no gray areas, none. Gifts are something that can easily be misconstrued, especially in today’s world. So please, don’t make it weird—a card is nice, and that’s it. Plus, I can afford whatever gift you can give me. It’s sort of like the medical student buying me coffee. It will never happen, not in a million years.
Now that said… One exception could be is if you have a very long-standing relationship with a physician who acts as your mentor, and you decide to get them a neutral gift like a nice picture frame as a thank you for helping you get into residency. But that sort of relationship takes years to grow, and you basically become friends, and the dynamic changes. If you have a limited exposure to the person, it just doesn’t feel right. I don’t know how else to explain it.


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Now just out of curiosity, say you wanted to develop a mentor-friendship with a superior. Would asking them to get coffee or some other forms of casual conversation be inappropriate? I totally understand the disparity you're referencing and if anything, getting to know people who have already walked the path seems invaluable. Just curious as to your input on appropriate ways to form these connections if there are really things to be cautious with. As with my instructors, asking to grab lunch or something has always lead to great conversations and overall good vibes. Thanks again for the insight.
 
To be honest, I'd just ask them for some time to meet up. Let the professor or attending or whoever you're meeting, decide on the venue. Some will say, well i'm busy but i'll be grabbing some coffee. some might just say, meet me in my office. A lot will prefer their office because while they're waiting for you, or if their previous obligation ends early, they can chill in their office to get caught up with emails. Having them leave their office is just more work for them. If you want it to be casual, you can steer that conversation based on your language, tone, and body language. However, the caveat is that you need to decide what level of casual-ness is appropriate. But honestly, just getting a chance to meet up with them is most important, I'd worry less about "how casual it is". The more you meet with a person, the more comfortable you are with a person. Remember, its like any other human interaction/relationship.
 
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Don't just look out for yourself. Give back. And thank those who have helped you get to where you are.

Thanks for this reminder. I sent "official" thank you cards to my med school letter of rec writers last year. But after reading this I just sent them all quick emails thanking them again, giving them an update on my cycle, and reiterating why I really enjoyed their classes/labs/working with them. Not in a self-centered they're dying to know where I'm going way, but it definitely rings true when you say they invested in us- as students, lab techs, mentees, etc- and I hope that sending back reports of good stuff gives them a little oomph to keep doing all of the good things that they do :)
 
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Hey I agree with everything here- I had students shadow me in my clinic during residency, and more often than not, ended up staying late and chatting and giving application advice. Just a simple thank you email is great, but what is even better is updates! If you get interviews and acceptances, I want to hear about it and cheer you along! Or if thing didn’t go well, I’d want to know what happened and would probably give some help/advice, if I knew about it.
 
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Hey I agree with everything here- I had students shadow me in my clinic during residency, and more often than not, ended up staying late and chatting and giving application advice. Just a simple thank you email is great, but what is even better is updates! If you get interviews and acceptances, I want to hear about it and cheer you along! Or if thing didn’t go well, I’d want to know what happened and would probably give some help/advice, if I knew about it.

100% Truth @OddNath !!!!
 
Thank you for this post! I cannot believe some pre-meds actually have the audacity tell the doctors they are shadowing that they are "too busy" or show up late to meetings. I couldn't imagine saying that to the doctors I shadowed. I wouldn't have blamed you if you just dropped all communication right there.

Writing thank you letters to my LOR writers was so awesome. One of the best ways to spend an hour of your time is showing gratitude.
 
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Thank you for this post! I cannot believe some pre-meds actually have the audacity tell the doctors they are shadowing that they are "too busy" or show up late to meetings. I couldn't imagine saying that to the doctors I shadowed. I wouldn't have blamed you if you just dropped all communication right there.

Writing thank you letters to my LOR writers was so awesome. One of the best ways to spend an hour of your time is showing gratitude.

Tell you the truth, the saddest part is that these people have been accepted to med school. Unfortunately, there is no great way to weed people out in terms of personality deficits. We try, but i think we still have people slip through the cracks.

I sometimes like to think of it as dating-you know, when the guy or the girl falls for the "bad girl or bad guy"? And you're sitting on the sideline going...WTF!?!?!?!?! That person is a piece of ****! Why him/her?!!?!? Why not ME!?!?

I feel I would be having this sentiment if I were their peers as a premed.
 
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Hi all!

Many of you don't know me (wouldn't expect you to), but I used to post in the premed forums wwaaaaay back when I was applying, and I think I made a little personal statement thread that the mods have left as a sticky (**Thanks guys!**)

So I'm now an ER resident, just finished a month in the ICU (and switching over from nights to days). Last week I was reminiscing how 6 years ago I had the dream of going to med school and so forth. Now I get to live it. Don't get me wrong, its exhausting, and the system itself makes one easy to burn out. Patient care is great, but all of the administrative stuff makes you want to quit it all sometimes.

Thank you all who have helped me get to where I am now.

But, one thing I advise you all as you begin this journey...

Don't just look out for yourself. Give back. And thank those who have helped you get to where you are.

The reason why I say this is that as I'm a rising senior resident, I still mentor premeds and medstudents alike, and a lot of people talk about how "this generation sucks" because nobody is professional, everyone is entitled, and etc. Truth is, I sometimes feel that way too. Sometimes I get really upset because after working 14-15 hours straight, and a med student or premed tells me that they're too busy, basically implying that I need to "work on their schedule". Or sometimes when people just show up late when they wanted to meet up with me to get coffee. Or when professors and attendings alike complain about how a student was unprofessional and still wanted to get a letter of recommendation. All I wanna say is, just take some of these parts of life seriously. Some of you haven't had to do grown-up things yet, but it doesn't mean that it's an excuse to not be professional.

My other hints that I want to share:
-Thank your letter writers. They helped you get to where you are today, and where you're going tomorrow. Why is it so hard to thank someone? Faculty get a lot of satisfaction from this, and helps them continue what they're doing. You've asked them to spend at LEAST an hour or two out of their time (when they could've spent time with family, do a hobby, whatever), on a person they hardly know, just to help them on their 'personal quest' to become a physician (for whatever noble or non-noble reason). How would you like it if someone asked you to do something nice for them and it took up hours of your day, but they never even bothered to say thanks? Nobody gets an extra bonus check for writing your LOR. So be appreciative, (NO GIFTS plz) and tell them where you end up! Its the least you can do.

-Show up on time, and try to be flexible with your scheduling. Being assertive is great, and reaching out to people for advice, to meet up for coffee/tea is fine. But show up on time. You'd be surprised how for a majority of physicians, residents, and med students, are ALL very busy. Myself and others are sometimes skeptical how truly busy some people are...or...they're just too busy going to some party/function and don't want to skip out on it. Trust me, if you're willing to miss out something for your professional advancement for a party/social function...I just feel really sad to tell you that a majority of residents feel a sense of "missing out"...and if you as a premed feel that is non-negotiable...well, I don't know is medicine is the right specialty for you. While you might have a choice now, you won't later. (because you'll be buried in 250K in debt...)

-When you ask for an LOR, get all of your stuff together. CVs/Resumes, personal statements, transcripts. Make it look like you prepared. No mispellings, no haphazard crap. Why? Because nobody is pointing a gun to your head saying that if you don't apply now or this year, you will die. If you're not ready, then don't apply that year! A way I like to think of this is: Nobody sends their patient to the OR to be operated on if they're medically unfit for surgery (unless its trauma). You're only increasing their risk for a bad outcome. So, Mr./Ms. Premed-to-be-doctor, you're telling me you're gonna be the surgeon who cuts on an unstable patient? If the patient isn't ready for surgery, don't operate. If you're not ready to apply or ask for a letter, don't ask/apply. DO IT ONCE, DO IT RIGHT.

-Give back. Remember, you're here because other people 'volunteered' to help you get here, and the same will be once you go to med school and residency. I find it so paradoxical that so many premeds say they want to "help people" during their interviews yet they hardly ever take time to help others get to med school (especially since they JUST went through the process and are 'experts' in it!) once they get into med school. Sounds like a ridiculous hypocrisy, juss sayin.

Anyway, those are my two cents. If you guys wanna ask any questions about premed life, med school life, residency, whatever, PM me or just reply below. Best of luck to you all, I've been in your shoes once before. Its quite a journey! And still more to come.

Cheers,

The give back part I've kind of gotten off track. Having moved on to becoming an attending, my work/life load has become extremely busy. I have not had the opportunity to work with undergraduates anymore. I am only working with residents and taking care of patients. Amazing how much the work takes over your life.
 
So a related question: I've been working in the same unit as a scribe for the last 3 years and have developed good relationships with both the providers and nursing/support staff in the unit. Would you still feel that it's inappropriate to bring donuts or cookies on my last day as a gift to all of them (LORwriters included)?
 
So a related question: I've been working in the same unit as a scribe for the last 3 years and have developed good relationships with both the providers and nursing/support staff in the unit. Would you still feel that it's inappropriate to bring donuts or cookies on my last day as a gift to all of them (LORwriters included)?

Sounds fine. And delicious


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So a related question: I've been working in the same unit as a scribe for the last 3 years and have developed good relationships with both the providers and nursing/support staff in the unit. Would you still feel that it's inappropriate to bring donuts or cookies on my last day as a gift to all of them (LORwriters included)?
food is always a good idea.
 
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So a related question: I've been working in the same unit as a scribe for the last 3 years and have developed good relationships with both the providers and nursing/support staff in the unit. Would you still feel that it's inappropriate to bring donuts or cookies on my last day as a gift to all of them (LORwriters included)?

Totally different dynamic. Donuts are inexpensive, and you’d be bringing enough for an entire group.
 
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Yeah, I usually baked a cheesecake after each of my rotations as a resident (much more awk when you're a med student-not as recommended) for the nurses and team with, "Thank you for dealing with my incompetencies over the past month!" :) (I am honestly thankful because I still make mistakes from time to time and I do appreciate the help everyone gives me-the least I can do.) Helps them know that you appreciate them despite the rigors and challenges of residency at large. Then when you come back with a little more experience, you'll hopefully have more people on your side to fight the great fight.

In case someone's wondering-I bake cheesecakes. (circa middle school.) Thats the only thing i can bake. lol.
 
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Thank you for the advice and good luck on the rest of your ER residency!
 
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