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TheTruth About Being a Good Doctor
This month, I want to pull back the curtain and talk about an aspect of becoming a doctor most people don’t know about. You probably know about the four additional years of schooling doctors need to take in order to graduate frommedical school. But the strange thing about medical training is that doctors are not ready to start practicing independently the moment they graduate frommedical school. In fact, new doctors don’t have much practical knowledge when they graduate frommedical school! Dentists, chiropractors, and other health care professionals are ready to go as soon as they graduate, but doctors have multiple years of residency training after finishing school before they’re even remotely ready to see patients on their own. The shortest residencies last three years, while doctors in more specialized fields, like pediatric neurosurgeons, might be residents for up to 10 years. My ENT residency was five years, and I can still remember what those first few weeks were like. In medical school, the first two years were spent in a classroom learning science and medicine; the third year is when you finally spend your time in the hospital and clinics. But during the fourth year, you take a lot to time off to interview for residency programs and do research. By graduation, you’re a bit rusty on the clinical skills you learned during the third year! This is why it felt pretty overwhelming when I started my residency. I suddenly had much more responsibility without having a lot of practical knowledge about how to be a doctor.
Dr. Evans in his residency days
doctor. No amount of time in the classroomwill ever prepare you for talking with patients or performing surgery with your own two hands. Residents put in 60–80-hour weeks, so even though we start out not knowing anything, we learn a lot very quickly. There’s a saying in residency: “See one, do one, teach one.” The idea is that in order to learn a certain skill, you need to see a procedure, do it yourself, and then teach it to someone else. In reality, it’s more like “See five, do 20, teach one” before you know how to do something on your own. There’s no perfect training in the world, but this kind of medical training has been going on for over 100 years. It works pretty well. After going through the intense residency training, it feels great to get out into the world on your own. You know you’re capable of taking care of patients on your own, without having an attending doctor looking over your shoulder. At the end of their residency, whether it’s three years, five years, or 10 years, most people are pretty competent physicians — at least I was. May is graduation season, which means on July 1 there’s going to be a lot of new doctors starting their residency. Don’t worry if you need to see the doctor or if you have a loved one going in for surgery with a resident doctor helping
I know hearing this might make some people really nervous to be seen by a brand-new doctor who is just starting their residency, but you don’t have to worry. All residents are watched very closely by the attending doctor and more senior residents. The attending will never leave a junior doctor alone with a patient unless they know the resident has shown they are competent enough to care for the patient.
“It’s during the residency program that you actually learn how to be a good doctor.“
on the case — they might not remember everything frommedical school, but I can assure you, they are working hard to take care of their patients and are being supervised very closely. You’re still in good hands. –Dr. Seth Evans
It’s during the residency program that you actually learn how to be a good
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