4 physicians share what they wish they knew going into their career

How to choose the right mentor, the importance of continuing education and the different stress factors of healthcare are among the top issues physicians wish they knew about at the beginning of their career.

Here, four physicians share what they wish they knew entering their careers:

Amit Mirchandani, MD. Texas Health Surgery Center Rockwall: The key is to seek out the right mentors for where you want to go. Knowing this early in your career is key. If it is to become a university professor, you will likely have many great choices along the way in your training. If you want to be a private practice physician or an entrepreneur, you’ll have to be proactive about finding your mentors as early as possible. It has been the secret sauce of my career thus far. Our happiness as physicians largely depends on knowing where we want to go with our career and finding the mentors to help us get there.

David Bumpass, MD. University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (Little Rock): The first year or two of practice can bring a lot of new and somewhat unexpected stress factors — often a new city, new hospital, new staff and different norms than the hospital where a surgeon trained. Simply performing a good surgery is only a part of achieving a good outcome for a patient. Coordinating postoperative care and establishing good patient education and communication are crucial. Also, I did not anticipate the extent that complications can weigh on one's mind when the "buck stops" with you, the surgeon.

Daniel Gittings, MD. Orthopedic Specialty Institute (Orange, Calif.): Being a great physician also means dedicating yourself to being a lifelong learner. Healthcare is constantly changing how we care for patients and the way we deliver care to patients. We cannot rest on our laurels from medical school, residency and fellowship as we owe it to our patients and our community to stay current with best practices and innovations. The COVID-19 pandemic is just one example of how physicians learned to adapt and change the way we administer healthcare via telemedicine and how we prioritize and triage resource intensive services such as surgery to patients during a crisis.

C. Ann Conn, MD. Advanced Pain Institute (Hammond, La.): I've always had the mindset of an early adapter and when I started practicing, I did not understand the significant barriers to payment for new procedures. The atmosphere can make it difficult for patients to access the newest treatments. Because of this, I came to understand that advocacy is critical for our profession and our patients. The decision-makers in government are often unaware of both the issues we face as providers and the specific sufferings of our patients, and, of course, these problems are interconnected. Therefore, it is important that we speak out to improve the situation.

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