October 31, 2012

Medicine like a Storm

As I was taking the train to my first interview for residency, crossing my fingers that it would keep going to my destination and not be thwarted by wind or rain, I was running through my Plan B, Plan C, and even Plan D for every part of this travel adventure, and realized that practicing good medicine is a lot like travelling in a storm.

First, collect the right data from diverse sources with different perspectives.  Patient history, journal articles, residency training, nursing notes, etc.  Or in a storm, weather reports, news stories, calling friends and family in the area.

Second, create a plan.  Every step - know how it's going to work, know the tools you need and how you will get them.

Third, create a Plan B, a Plan C, and a Plan D - at least one of these should include asking for help.

Fourth, think about any particularly difficult steps where things are more likely to deviate from the plan - try to predict how they would go wrong, and create a plan for those.

Fifth - and possibly most important - communicate your plan.  Keep your team in the loop as the plan changes, ask for feedback on the plan, take into consideration new information provided by the team, and whatever you do, continue to let everyone know what's going on so they can adapt accordingly.

Sixth, stay calm and adapt easily, as you know you have prepared as much as possible.

I was also feeling very grateful in my interview travels for just how much I am cared for by the people I love.  Even with all the craziness of travelling, that is a wonderful feeling.

"Sometimes God calms the storm.  Sometimes He calms the sailor"
- Unknown

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