12 Rules for Doctor's Survival

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This week I'll be participating in a national webinar aimed at medical students, discussing what to expect as an intern. With that in mind I'm reposting the first post of my "Tips for Surgical Interns" series, which I originally posted on January 7, 2006. The content is relevant for all interns and doctors, not just surgical interns.

Tips for Surgical Interns #1

... for the Inaugural Tip I'm posting 12 Rules For Doctor's Survival that were taught to me during medical school. Interns, when things get tough (and they will), remember the Rules.

Rule 1: Do not take responsibility for things you cannot control.

Rule 2: Take care of yourself or you can't take care of anyone else.

Rule 3: Trouble is easier to prevent than to fix.

Rule 4: When you get upset, tune into what is going on with you and go through the Three Step Process.
1. What am I feeling?
2. What do I want?
3. What can I do about it?

Rule 5: If the answer to Rule 4, Step 3 is "Nothing", apply Rule 1.

Rule 6: Ask for support when you need it - give people permission to feel what they feel.

Rule 7: In a bad situation you have four options:
1. Leave it
2. Change it
3. Accept it
4. Reframe it

Rule 8: If you never make mistakes, you're not learning anything.

Rule 9: When a situation turns out badly look at where the choice points were, then decide what you would do differently next time.

Rule 10: At any given time you can only make decisions based on the information you have.

Rule 11: Life is not fair - or a contest.

Rule 12: You have to start where the patient is at.

Please note, the Rules for Doctor's Survival are different to the Rules of Surgical Intern Bootcamp. Surgical Interns of 2006, enjoy your last week of freedom and good luck. I'll see you on the wards.

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This website is authored by Dr Jillian Tomlinson, a fully qualified plastic, reconstructive and hand surgeon who practices in Melbourne, Australia. This website aims to inform patients and health professionals about hand surgery, illness prevention and the practice philosophy of Dr Jill Tomlinson. This website's content is designed to complement, not replace, the relationship between a patient and his/her own doctor. The information is not intended to replace the advice of a health professional. This website does not host or receive funding from advertising or from the display of commercial content.