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Substance Abuse: Risk Factors and Good News about Treatment Success
What was once an occasional vice can become a habit, and then an addiction. Are doctors more at risk for substance abuse problems? And when they require treatment, what's proving successful? "The first thing people may not know is that the rate of addiction ...
Is it Flak or is it Feedback? What Experts Say About Giving and Receiving Criticism
"Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary," said Winston Churchill. "It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things." Whether it comes across as excessive and judgmental or as ...
Hurtful and Dismissive Remarks: How to Change the Tone
Not my problem. Aren't you clever. Here we go again. Yeah, I heard that yesterday. Get over it. You hear dismissive phrases every day. You see them on tshirts, bumper stickers and social media. You may be at the giving or receiving end of a remark ...
Maintaining Professional Boundaries in the Workplace
You probably know someone who loves to chime in with their own opinion during a conversation, even if the subject is far beyond their area of expertise. It’s likely you have also come across a colleague or two who shares way too much about their ...
Dangerous Relationships: Breaking Out of a Pattern
Editor’s note: This article is part two of a two-part series. The July 2013 issue of the RAP newsletter covered the warning signs of dangerous relationships. Even smart, high-achieving people can end up in unhealthy or abusive relationships—and ...
Dangerous Relationships: Warning Signs You Need to Know
Is this the right person for me? Relationships during residency can be difficult to form, and hard to maintain. A healthy intimate relationship can help you stay balanced and emotionally supported during stressful times. An unhealthy relationship ...
Putting Relationships on Hold: A Good Idea?
This is a critical stage of my career, you tell yourself. I don’t have time to invest in any relationship right now. It’ll just have to wait. The demands of residency can discourage anyone from starting a relationship, and can derail existing ones ...
Counteract Mental Fatigue: Techniques to Use Today
One doctor locks her work problems in the car before entering the house to be with her family. A resident showers at the gym after work and envisions the problems of the day washing down the drain before going home to his fiancée. A surgeon keeps ...
Is There Ever a Good Way to Break Bad News?
It's the drama you dread: your role as doctor puts you in front of an audience that will never applaud what you have to say. Yet there are ways to deliver even the most serious news in a way that demonstrates both compassion and professionalism ...
Minding Your Own Wellness: You Can Be the Example Others Want to Follow
Pay attention to your own wellness and you'll gain resilience. You will not only see the benefits in your own life, but in the lives of those around you. Develop Extra Reserves "People in the helping professions don't get a pass on life and are not immune to things such as a job ...
Culture Clash: Bridging the Understanding Gap
It's an awkward moment: you extend your hand for a friendly handshake but a patient won't respond to your gesture. Have you done something to offend her? In some cultures, physical contact between opposite genders isn't socially acceptable. You may have encountered this or ...
What You Need To Know Regarding Depression
Tampa, Fla. (March, 2012). Everyone from time to time experiences temporary feelings of sadness, frustration, irritability, stress, and fatigue as part of the normal ups and downs of daily life. While this article is not intended to provide a diagnosis, it does intend to provide some basic ...
Your Professional Image: How to Look and Act the Part
There's no better way to smooth your path to professional success than to put others at ease. When you practice good manners and present yourself in a way that is appropriate to the situation, you enhance your image to everyone around you. "Only 15% of your success is based on your education and ...
Humility vs. Arrogance: Which Wins in the Workplace?
Raise your hand if you have ever worked with an arrogant person. When organizational and industrial psychologist Stan Silverman asks audiences to do this, almost every hand goes up. Arrogance in the workplace is widespread, yet until recently there hasn’t been a way to measure it. Silverman, associate ...
Standing Your Ground When Ethics are At Stake
You’re feeling like your brain will not absorb one more detail, and you are moving your body by sheer willpower. Now your supervisor is asking you to work on a complication with one of your patients. It’s past your work-hour limit. But it’s another good learning opportunity in your ...
When Social Media and Professionalism Collide
A well-known ball player, whom your sister has had a crush on for years, has been brought into the emergency room with a severe knee injury. He's a public figure, often surrounded by paparazzi, so what would it hurt to take a quick picture with your smart phone and send it to her so she can ...
A Good Night's Sleep: The Impossible Dream?
Sleep. You crave it, but it may seem that you’ll have to wait until you complete your residency before you get a decent night’s sleep again. What risks do you take when you are sleepdeprived? You might be surprised at what researchers are discovering about how sleep loss affects us, and what ...
Patient Communication: It's Not Just What You Say, It’s How You Say It
Very smart, competent doctors who do not communicate with empathy and respect are more likely to have noncompliant patients. They are also more likely to get themselves into legal trouble. There are specific ways to gain a patient's trust, show respect and communicate caring. The very first ...
Doctors in Cyberspace: Do Social Media and Medicine Mix?
Do doctors belong in cyberspace? It’s not hard to find doctors who blog, tweet, and post updates on LinkedIn and Facebook and other social networks. Some consider social media a natural extension of their educator role. Others are using it to reach new patients or share knowledge with colleagues ...
Effective Leadership and Mentoring: Reaching and Teaching in New Ways
In the midst of a competitive, sink-or-swim culture, is there room for effective mentoring? What skills does it take to pass along your accumulated wisdom in a way that encourages, rather than discourages, your students? “Mentoring relationships (mentorships) are dynamic, reciprocal, personal ...
Essentials for Building Rapport
The ability to listen, a natural curiosity and empathy are among the essential qualities a doctor needs to establish rapport with patients, colleagues and staff. When a doctor comes across as lacking any of these qualities, the consequences can be disruptive, distressing and potentially ...
Flirting or Just Friendly?  How to Tell the Difference
In the middle of an incredibly demanding schedule, a little flirtation can lighten the mood...right? After all, it happens between characters on TV hospital dramas week after week. Yet crossing the line from friendliness to flirting can complicate work relationships, whether you’re the ...
Tired, Stressed and Worried? RAP is Here for You, Anytime.
We know it’s tough out there right now. Financial stress and uncertainty, piled onto the enormous pressures you face as a resident, can add up to some major burdens. So we’d like to remind you about an important benefit that comes to you as part of your residency at USF College of Medicine—the confidential services of the Resident Assistance ...
Taking Your Own Advice:  Healthy Habits for Busy Physicians
Are you practicing the same health habits you preach to your patients? Or is that one more thing you’ve put off until after your residency? Using a practical approach, other busy physicians have successfully improved their health and stress resistance. They share some tips you can put to use right away. “Being a resident is just about the most challenging ...
Communicating Across Cultures:  Nonverbal Skills Essential
How do you approach a patient whose culture is different from your own? Do you make assumptions too rapidly? Do you miss important nonverbal cues? Do you end up frustrated because your patient has a different set of beliefs about health care and doctors? When you learn and practice techniques to bridge cultural barriers, you show patients that...
Medical Ethics - A Fresh Look
You’ve faced them already and you know they’re a part of your profession — complex ethical issues that test your knowledge and your emotions. There are rarely easy answers, so it’s important to understand the most frequent issues today and how to keep up with emerging ethical dilemmas. Paul S. Appelbaum, M.D. teaches and writes extensively on medical ethics ...
Building the Leader Within:  Skills to Develop Now
Your residency can offer opportunities for you to develop your leadership skills. There are a few challenges, however, that you may need to overcome in order to develop this important competency. “There are a few things about being a doctor that seem to present a challenge for some less experienced doctors who are also trying to lead work teams,” says Rick Rumford, a leadership and communication consultant and...
Newest Member of the Team? How to Earn Professional Respect
It’s your first day working with a new group of people, and you’re the rookie. You have earned some pretty impressive credentials but now you are surrounded by physicians who outrank you by several levels, colleagues who have been there awhile, and staff who have seen a lot of doctors come and go. So how do you go about earning the respect of everyone in...
"Listen, Doc, let me tell you..." Why good listening skills are essential
Listening for the first few minutes of a patient interaction will help set the tone, establish trust and reveal important information earlier in the visit. A doctor who is a good listener is also less likely to run into malpractice problems. Experts discuss the value of listening skills and how they can be used to improve even the briefest patient encounter...
How to Gauge—and Correct—Your Own Age Bias
It might be your tone of voice. It might be the way you address a patient. It might be the way you rush through a patient visit or become impatient when you have to repeat yourself. It may be the way you dismiss a health concern that would be taken more seriously in a younger patient. Without realizing it, you, your staff, or even your ...
Dealing With the Emotionally Needy Patient in a Healthy Way
For a variety of reasons, there are some patients who tend to "latch on" to their doctor in a way that interferes with effective care. The challenge for physicians is to identify these emotionally needy patients and communicate with them in a responsive, professional ...
Managing Time: Residents, Experts Share Tips
"Take two to prioritize and plan." That's the prescription many medical residents take as they try to manage their hectic professional lives around personal time ...
Taking Time to Communicate: Skills Residents Need Now
Some of us are born with the ability to establish instant rapport with others, and some of us need to work at developing those skills. Many doctors go into the profession because they have a desire to work with patients, but find their medical education focuses more on the technical and not ...
Breaking Bad News to Patients: What Doctors Have Learned
Every physician faces it—the moment when there’s no choice but to deliver bad news to a patient. But there are some techniques that can make that communication go more smoothly ...
Fast Takes: Tips for Gauging Patient Communication and Behavior Styles
As you become more experienced as a physician, you’ll get better at sizing up patients’ communication styles and at detecting potential behavior problems. It might be simply a matter of developing and trusting your own intuition. Or you may find you need to train yourself to pay attention to the small clues a patient presents...
Tackling Tough Ethical and Professional Issues
"The difficulty in life is the choice," wrote Irish novelist George Moore. As a resident you face some of life’s most challenging choices. Decisions you make affect the lives of others as well as your own. It’s important to understand some of the most commonly-faced issues of ethics and professionalism that ...
Moments in Miscommunication: Vignettes Illustrate Valuable Lessons
It can happen to anyone. You make an assumption and it’s off the mark. You miss important verbal or nonverbal signals because you haven’t paid close enough attention. You don’t ask enough questions to learn the whole story. Miscommunication can occur when you’re dealing with patients, families, colleagues, staff and insurers. The stories that follow ...
Two Doctors in the House
If you’re married to another physician, or you’re involved in a close relationship with one, congratulations. Two-career couples can enjoy considerable rewards. But as you may have already discovered, there are challenges unique to the dual-physician relationship. Knowing ...
Why Doctors Need Emotional Intelligence
"Physician, know thyself!" might be some of the best advice around the medical profession today. Doctors who understand their own emotions and behavior, and who use that knowledge to relate to others, are more likely to achieve higher levels of career success. There are some very real and practical advantages for medical professionals ...
How to Recognize the Signs of Stress in Yourself and Those Around You
"Learning how to take care of patients and realizing that one's orders have real impact on what occurs can create a tremendous amount of stress," says James Martin, M.D., president of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). As program director for the Family Practice Residency Program at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health Care in San Antonio, Texas, Martin deals ...
How Good Are My Interpersonal Skills, Really?
Is it important to get feedback on how you come across to patients, staff and colleagues? Yes, say communications professionals, and they offer examples of what happens when doctors communicate poorly. They also offer tips on the best ways to solicit feedback that you can act on right away ...
Bullying Behavior in the Workplace – Its Costs and Consequences
Most working Americans can expect to witness - if not become the target of - workplace bullying at least once in their careers, says Susan Futterman, author of "When You Work For a Bully." Futterman wrote the book after experiencing bullying first hand. "As I sought to understand the impact that experience had on me, I came to realize just how widespread the problem was and how serious it could be - ranging from long-term depression, bankruptcy, divorce, even suicide." ...
Using Medical Jargon: How to Cure Yourself of the Habit
Early in his medical career, Thomas Weida, MD conducted a routine well baby check. "After the check-up, I remember telling the baby’s mother that the exam was "unremarkable," and thought nothing of it," he says. "But the mom became quite upset. She thought I had told her that she had an unremarkable ...
Seasonal Stress: How Doctors Learned to Cope
It was New Year’s Eve 1999, minutes away from the turn of the century and a new millennium. Doug Hornsby, M.D. was the senior radiologist on duty in the Emergency Department at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach. He and the other medical personnel working that evening were ready for whatever the night would bring ...
Sensitivity to Cultural, Religious Differences Essential at Holiday Time
Holiday traditions and religious beliefs can affect the way a patient responds to medical treatment and advice. While it may take a little extra time to learn what a patient’s beliefs are, especially if they are different from your own, it’s always worthwhile ...
Compassion Fatigue: Are You Vulnerable?
"Compassion fatigue is an occupational hazard of caring," explains John-Henry Pfifferling, Ph.D., director of the Center for Professional Well-Being in Durham, N.C. "Physicians may see more trauma and suffering in one day than normal people see in a lifetime, and their own empathy puts them at risk." The condition known as compassion fatigue or "vicarious trauma" is characterized by emotional exhaustion ...
When Patients Can't Afford the Care You Recommend
Most doctors never ask whether their patients can afford the medicine or treatment they recommend, says Richard J. Sagall, M.D. a family physician and president of the non-profit organization NeedyMeds (www.needymeds.com). "It's an issue we always need to address. The important thing is to ask. Patients want us to ask ...
Skills for Resolving Conflict Can De-stress Your Work & Home Life
"More anger stems from lack of sleep than from all of life’s frustrations," observed D. Sutten. Sutten, one of the many insightful sources quoted in John W. Gardner's Quotations of Wit and Wisdom, may have touched on one of the truths of a resident's life. But of course it's not quite that simple. Every resident has experienced moments of anger and interpersonal conflict. Whether those episodes are caused by sleep deprivation ...
Successful Resident Marriages: What Makes them Work?
"Graduate school changes us," says Peter A. D. Sherrard, Ph.D. "As we go through this experience, it is important to take our partners with us. We need to find ways of helping our partners understand the demands of the program and the demands of the profession, so that they can grow along with us. "Sherrard teaches at the University of Florida in Gainesville in ...
Take Action Before Stress Takes its Toll
"Yes, I’m stressed," you admit. "So is everyone else around me. Now what?" When you recognize that stress is the underlying problem, and that it affects the way you behave and perform, you’re already on the right track. Seasoned doctors understand this problem and have encouraging words for you ...
To Avoid Medical Errors, Be Aware of Frequent Causes and Purpose of Protocols
Wrong-site surgery, medication mix-ups and diagnostic errors are among the medical mistakes that make headlines. In 1999, the Institute of Medicine report, "To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System" heightened awareness of the scope and seriousness of medical errors. New guidelines for reporting and preventing medical errors have emerged as a result, including the 2004 Universal Protocol ...
When a patient's family needs to know (and they’re 1000 miles away)
It happens frequently in Florida, and in any community with a high retiree population: Mom or Dad needs medical care, and there are difficult decisions to be made. Their adult children live in another state, yet they want to know what's going on with their parents' medical care. And, they will likely influence their parents' decisions ...
Professional Networking: An Essential Support System
When the going gets tough, the tough start networking. While that may seem an unlikely strategy for time-starved medical residents, there’s a lot of wisdom in it. Tap into a network of colleagues and you’ll find people who understand exactly what you’re going through. Learn new ways to interact with fellow physicians and ultimately your patients will benefit ...
Conflict on the Job
In the medical profession as in any other, conflicts are simply a fact of life. How to handle those conflicts, though, is something nearly everyone can learn to do better ...
How to Identify and Manage the "Worried Well" Patient
When health news hits the airwaves, the daily paper or the Internet, your patients are paying attention. This can be both a blessing and a curse. The doctor’s role as a main source of health information has never had more competition. Sometimes the health issues patients hear about from other sources can be a great way to begin a patient-physician ...
Legal Implications of Medical Errors: What You Should Know
It's no surprise that doctors can be sued for almost anything. You can protect yourself and keep your patients safe by paying attention to some basics that may have little to do with your medical skills. "I can't tell you how many cases I've settled because of some systems error that had nothing to do with the quality of medical care provided," says Tim Bone ...
Essential Skills: Breaking Bad News
It's probably one of the toughest tasks of the profession: conveying bad news to patients and their families. It's not a skill typically covered at length in any formal training, and even the most experienced physicians sometimes find themselves wondering about the best approach ...
Resident Stress: It Comes With the Territory
As a medical resident, you'll be spending long hours caring for others. But it's important to take care of your own well-being, too. The College of Medicine takes a special interest in your success as a resident, and has established a Residents Assistance Program (RAP) tailored for your special needs ...
Talking Down – How Condescension Disrupts Effective Communication
A condescending attitude isn't difficult to recognize in someone else. When it's directed at you, you feel belittled and inferior, and it can put you on the defensive. Yet some doctors have trouble recognizing how their own condescending behavior can damage their ability to work with and relate to others...
Cultural Competency: Getting Past the Barriers
The nation's growing ethnic diversity poses special challenges for the medical profession. The U.S. now attracts two-thirds of the world's immigrants, and generalist physicians can expect more than 40 percent of their patients to be from minority cultures. An estimated 32 million Americans speak a language other than English ...
How to Fit Teaching Moments Into a Crowded Schedule
There are teaching moments in every doctor's day – but you have to be on the lookout for them. If you're extra-attentive, you can find and use those moments — however short — to have a positive influence on your patients' health. A teaching moment might be as simple as clearing up a myth or misconception. It might be guiding a patient to get help beyond what you ...
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