You may not want my advice, but I’m going to give it to you anyway.
Such are the words spoken by someone you’re usually not inclined to listen to, such as a parent, boss or “know it all” partner. I happen to be none of these, so it may behoove you to consider these tenets as they may enhance your career in rheumatology.
I’ve written this think piece to hopefully guide those starting out in rheumatology; those who don’t yet have the numbers and mileage to be consider truly wizened by learning and mistakes. I’ve already written about how the last 30 years has taught me to be a better rheumatologist.
Thus, the following advice is intended for younger rheumatologists, including fellows, recent graduates and those in practice for less than 7 years. This advice is born of years of observation on what happens as our careers progress from infancy (fellowship) to old age (retirement):
- Read daily or weekly - anything less is a half-baked plan to catch up on what you don’t know. Have a plan for regular programmed learning (journals, podcasts, daily literature searches, medical library visits, weekly conferences, etc.).
- Don’t practice alone - While there are many good reasons to be a solo practitioner (small business, be your own boss, anti-socialism, etc.), these are best reserved for older and experienced rheumatologists. Every great rheumatologist will tell you that while fellowship was wonderful etc., it does not compare to the wealth of what you will learn through years of practice – especially when you can learn surrounded by mentors and peers.
- Be known for One Thing - I’ve written a whole blog on this. Essentially you need to be a specialist amongst specialists. Why would someone want to need to see you? You should stand out for something, attain excellence in one thing and what will ensue is a lifetime of excellence in many things.
- Know the definition of excellence - Famed coach Vince Lombardi said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”
- Know what it takes to be a great physician - These are taken from past articles and tweets of mine:
- The best doctors have two traits - curiosity and never giving less than 100%
- Patients rate doctors highly if they have a personality and show they care
- That one mouth of yours is outnumbered by your 2 ears. Great doctors are great listeners.