Welcome, new students, residents and working physicians
by E. Jeanne Kroeker, MD —
School is back in session. Local stores are generously stocked with classroom supplies, backpacks and lunch bags. Even Menards has a section of notebooks, pencils, paper and highlighters for shoppers to pick up when they are looking for housewares and lumber.
Quietly, without nearly the same fanfare or attention, Wichita has welcomed new medical students and new medical residents in the past two months. New students at KUSM-Wichita and the Kansas College of Osteopathic Medicine are charging down the path of their medical education. For many, this will be a wonderful learning adventure. For others, this will be more of a challenge than they ever imagined. Wichita’s multiple residency programs have launched their new residents into the first of many rotations, welcoming them into the hospitals and clinics where they are learning too many passwords, EMR programs, practice protocols and complex call schedules.
Also new in the community are those physicians who have just finished their residencies and fellowships and are the newly hired “attending” doctors. These new doctors are working independently for the first time. They may be launching their careers eagerly or with trepidation, without any supervising senior physicians overseeing their work and decisions. These newcomers just quietly show up on hospital and clinic rosters, approved by Medical Staff Committees. The rest of the medical community may not even know they are in town, unless the monthly MSSC newsletter new members section is read (assuming the new doctors join MSSC).
The transition from student and resident to working physician can be quite challenging for some doctors. After years of a focus-driven education and training path, the finish line has been reached. Grades, scores and activities in high school led to college. Good performance in college with appropriate extracurriculars and proof of being well-rounded individuals with good MCAT scores led to medical school. Grades, test scores, Step Scores and rotation evaluations all led to residency and fellowships. Interviews and residency evaluations then led to employment.
It can sometimes be difficult to settle into a permanent job at the end of this stairstep path. When you work and strive to achieve a “next step” for 11-plus years, what happens when there is no “next step” to conquer?
With employment, there are many significant transitions. Most doctors have to go through a process of learning to be “done.” Not done learning, by any means; CME requirements and the ever-changing landscape of medical information require learning throughout our whole career. But new doctors are done planning for the next rotation and the next step in training.
They are also done scheduling their day around the attending physician’s agenda and plans. They learn to set their own schedule and calendar of events and patient encounters. Now, work conflicts that interfere with family events are not because of the whims of an attending; these conflicts are of our own doing and prioritization.
As physicians out of training, outside of MIPS or HEDIS measures, we are rarely graded using standardized questions or specific metrics. Most often, we are graded and assessed using very soft, subjective measures: patient experience questionnaires, public opinion or social media mentions, the mood of our patients, the first impressions created by our offices and staff, the tone of our voices, our appearance, the actual and perceived amount of time spent with patients, our interactions with family members, communication with peers and team members, our information sharing methods, and our perceived medical knowledge. New physicians can be overwhelmed by these new rules and experiences, outside of the confines (and protection) of a training program.
I would encourage you all to flip to the end of this newsletter. Look for the new doctors listed under Roster Update, then keep an eye out for these new colleagues and consider them for patient referrals or greet them and welcome them to our community. If you encounter or teach new residents, encourage them to attend MSSC events in the upcoming year where they can meet and talk with doctors who have made the transition out of training and who won’t be “pimping them” for a few hours.
I also hope that all of you who have read this far will join me on Sept. 13 for an MSSC member tour of the Kansas College of Osteopathic Medicine, which has welcomed its first class of medical students to the school and to our community.