Spring is a time of graduations, assuming new roles, and career transitions. It’s also a time to practice gratitude, lead, and strive for excellence.
Springtime offers itself as a season of rebirth, renewal, and refreshment for those living things in our recently wintry world and oftentimes, for our souls. For many, spring is a time of graduation, assuming new roles, and/or career transition. Medical students graduate and become trainees, chief residents rise, fellows become subspecialists, and many clinicians change into new and exciting roles.
During this time, it’s vital to remember the “why” of medicine. As a COVID-weary profession, constantly inundated with the enormous burden of keeping itself regulated, fit for duty, compliant, and resilient despite the daily tumult of shifting evidence and opinion in every aspect of our professional lives, we must always go back to what and who is in the center: the patient.
Recently, sharing this message with graduating students, residents, and new doctors out of training, I found myself reflecting on a potential framework to remind myself of my “why.” The source of the ideas is largely inspired by the usual suspects: Sir William Osler, Victor Frankel, poets Maya Angelo, Nikki Giovanni, Albert Einstein, Marcus Aurelius, Bill Belichick, and Michael Jordan. Unable to cite each one of them, please accept this distillate at face value and know that “it’s in there” if you look. So, in using the concept of “3 Good Things” that is used to project gratitude, the following is a message to all of those in transition in this wonderful season.
If ever in need of a reminder about “why we are in this profession” and where to focus our energies, these “3 Good Things” are offered to keep the patient at the center and our feet moving in the right direction.
1. Do the work before you with excellence and expertise (Belichick, Jordan).
Ignore distractions as much as possible, and minimize catastrophic thinking and exaggerated regret about the past (Osler). Always be mindful of your position as a clinician and be humble and aware of new knowledge (Osler, Angelo, Einstein).
2. Lead from where you stand.
Everyone is a leader in their own right (Reagan). Have courage and persevere (Giovanni). Patients, colleagues, and others look to you for strength, transparency, and equanimity; try to deliver whenever possible (Osler).
3. Have charity, always.
When interacting with patients, colleagues, family, friends, and yourself, always be kind, show empathy, express gratitude, and exude grace (Osler, Frankel, Giovanni).
While there is no such thing as a guarantee, my hope is that this exercise, if done regularly, will inspire, recenter, refresh, and renew our daily pledge to the profession and patients we serve. I invite you to explore your own “3 Good Things” and find your own “Osler” along the way.
This piece expresses the views solely of the author. It does not necessarily represent the views of any organization, including Johns Hopkins Medicine.