Let's Talk

September 24, 2017

Hi everyone,

I have fragmented memories of meeting every year with my residency program director, Donald Martin.  Dr. Martin was a beloved diabetologist, a towering, gray-haired professor who adored Handel and lived on the main line, outside Philadelphia.  His office was sunny and immaculate, his desktop nearly empty, and he loved to regale us with stories about patients he’d taught to inject insulin by practicing on oranges, who’d completely misunderstood the lesson, thinking they were supposed to take their insulin by swallowing the fruit and, no surprise, became hyperglycemic.  Dr. Martin taught me to take nothing for granted when speaking to patients.  I always left his office feeling  pumped up, and I dreamed about landing a job like his one day.

Nearly thirty years later, I’m having similar meetings with you, 137 a year.  Per ACGME mandates, you’re supposed to have two meetings a year with program leadership. That’s one with me and one with your APD advisor.  At these meetings, we’ll reflect on your performance; give each other feedback; discuss scholarship, citizenship, and wellness; and plan your future.  I've already begun meeting with the PGY2s.  Next come the interns and then exit meetings with the seniors.  After your meeting, you'll get a summary, broadly outlined on the attached document:

  • Summary Comments address your overall performance, reflecting evaluations from faculty, peers, and students.  With rare exceptions, this section will explicitly state that you are meeting milestones and on target for promotion or graduation at the end of the year.  If that’s not true, we’ll discuss the concerns up front and you’ll know about them well before we meet.  Please read your evaluations beforehand, so we can discuss them. 
  • Self-Reflection invites you to consider your performance and any challenges you are facing.  What are you working on?  Teaching techniques?  Leadership skills?  Confidence?  We’re all working on something, or should be, so prepare to discuss.
  • If your ITE Results are back, we'll review your performance and identify areas needing attention.
  • I want to hear about your Study Plans.  If you haven't taken Step 3 yet, we’ll discuss your preparation.  For general studying, most of you should be working through question banks and study guides such as MKSAP.  You should also be reading journals, which you can get on line for free, and using web resources such as NEJM Journal Watch to keep you up to date.
  • We’ll discuss Scholarship.  For most PGY1s, we'll explore possible mentors and projects; for PGY2s, we'll make sure you’re zeroing in on a mentor and project and ready to meet Research-in-Residency deadlines if you plan to participate; for PGY3s, we’ll review your experiences and consider ways to present your work.  Although most of you will pursue original research, other options abound, such as curriculum development and quality improvement work.  Scholarship takes many forms and, if it’s well-considered and well-planned, we’ll support you.  If you’re excited, we’ll probably be excited too.
  • You’ll tell me about Citizenship, Service, and Extracurricular Activities.  How are you contributing or how do you want to contribute to our community?  We’ll discuss service on committees, journal clubs and interest groups to join, and opportunities to perform at Arts Night, play for the Beeson Bombers, write for the Beeson Beat, help with recruitment, and any other contribution you’d like to make.  As you move through training, I'll want to hear about your plans to take on leadership roles.
  • We'll discuss Wellness, particularly how you're taking care of yourself.  Are you sleeping enough? Eating healthy?  Exercising?  Socializing?  Seeing your family?  Are you happy?  If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” we’ll find ways to get to “yes.”
  • We'll Plan your Future.  We'll discuss what you're passionate about and where your career is going.  If you're unsure about your plans, we’ll find ways to uncover them.  We'll review your portfolio and how to make yourself a fantastic candidate for future jobs and fellowships.
  • For me, one of the most important parts of the meeting is getting your Feedback.  I'll be taking notes.  Your specific suggestions have led to transformative improvements in the program.  Be honest, and tell me what I need to know.
  • Finally, we'll set Professional Goals for the year, at least three.  Goals focus our efforts and hold us accountable. 

With 137 Traditional Residents, I spend A LOT of time meeting with residents every year- multiply each meeting by an hour and you’ll see what I mean.  Chatting with each of you individually is one of the best parts of my job.  I have two meetings tomorrow, one at 4P and one at 5:15P- you know who you are! Let’s make the most of it.  Come prepared, and let's talk.

Enjoy this gorgeous last blast of summer, everyone,

Mark

Submitted by Mark David Siegel on September 24, 2017