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Time for Takeoff

June 17, 2018
by Mark David Siegel

Hi everyone:

Settle in, shut your computers, inhale deeply, and return your seats to the upright position. We’re heading for the runway.

Our graduates are departing, dispersing to diverse destinations. Just three years ago, they joined our journey like all interns, packing pride and humility, confidence and doubt, potential and inexperience. They now have the skills, knowledge, and wisdom needed to navigate their own odysseys. They’ll make us proud.

This week, our PGY2s will become true seniors. Except for three rotations—MICU Senior, Fitkin, and VA MICU—PGY3 year is much like the last. But the similarity belies a distinction. PGY3s set the tone for our program. They role model clinical excellence, commitment, kindness, patience, and equanimity. We’ll follow their lead.

The most challenging transition is from intern to JAR. For the first time, our PGY2s will drive workups, lead rounds, preside over teaching sessions, run codes, and execute treatment plans. While parachutes are always available—in the form of PGY3s, fellows, Chiefs, and faculty—I’ve never seen a group of PGY2s more ready to take control of the cockpit.

Three months have passed since Match Day and I’m still euphoric. Our new interns are smart, accomplished, and overflowing with potential. But few interns start the year with practical skills. I didn’t. Over the next few weeks they will learn to present, master EPIC, and replete potassium. They will learn how to stay organized. We will remind them it’s okay to eat and go to the bathroom. We will recount our own struggles with imposter syndrome and how we conquered them. Before we know it, our interns will become skilled, compassionate, and independent. Today they are fledglings, but the ascent is steep and they will soon be joining us at cruising altitude.

I have four main hopes for this year. The first is to place medical literature at the center of our learning. Without the literature we fly blind, and I encourage all of you to sign up for email alerts from The NEJM, JAMA, JAMA-IM, The Annals, The Lancet, The BMJ, and whatever specialty journals entrance you. Take advantage of NEJM Journal Watch and Resident 360. Download the QxMD app. Share your knowledge on rounds and at report.

Second, adopt a growth mindset. Don’t fall into the trap of believing your reputation and self-worth are always on the line. We will never question your talents and potential. Don’t confuse constructive feedback with condemnation. We’re here to learn and we can only reach our final destinations with others to guide us. Embrace feedback as a learning opportunity and mistakes as an incentive to grow. We never stop growing.

Third, let’s commit ourselves to wellness. Our Chiefs have crafted schedules to maximize refueling. Our Wellness Committee will sponsor social activities. We will plan retreats. Many new faculty are signing up to become MACs. Please look out for one another, and never forget to eat, sleep, exercise, and socialize- especially when you think you don’t have time.

Finally, let’s remember our mission. We are here to learn and to serve. To succeed, we need to treat each other with respect and kindness. When something bad happens, as it inevitably will, we need to support one another. When we have differences of opinion, as all families do, we need to speak to each other honestly and candidly and, more importantly, we need to do our best to listen. Finally, let’s honor the faith our patients place in us. It’s our work at the bedside—the healing touch and our very presence—that gives meaning to our mission.

So as we head for the runway on this beautiful June morning, I couldn’t be more excited about this year’s adventure. These early summer days couldn’t be brighter, nor could the sky be bluer. Here’s to another year of learning, caring, and indelible memories. Buckle your seatbelts. It’s time for takeoff.


PS Happy Father’s Day!


Submitted by Mark David Siegel on June 17, 2018