Doc­tors have their own bag of tricks. Here are some of mine.

The Irish Times - Tuesday - Health - - Front Page - Pat Har­rold:

If I am ever called upon to do a Ted talk (you never know), I will be in good com­pany, as that ex­cel­lent re­source shares with us the wis­dom of peo­ple who are sup­posed to know what they are talk­ing about.

I like to watch th­ese talks, and learn all sorts of wis­dom, hints and strate­gies from sci­en­tists, lec­tur­ers, en­trepreneurs and co­me­di­ans which I can put to work in my own life.

It oc­curred to me that doc­tors have their own bag of tricks that have evolved over mil­lions of en­coun­ters; so I have se­lected a few of my own for de­liv­ery from the stage.

First, keep notes of any­thing that is im­por­tant to you. The worst note is bet­ter than none at all, and ex­pe­ri­enced doc­tors have panic at­tacks if they can­not make notes about ev­ery­thing they do. They proof you against the fu­ture.

Think of your­self first. The anal­ogy given to stu­dents is to make sure your own oxy­gen mask is on be­fore you put them on the kids if the air­plane is in trou­ble. The stressed, tired and dis­tracted doc­tor is a dan­ger­ous prospect. In fact, the acro­nym HALT is used – don’t work if you are hun­gry, an­gry, late or tired.

Med­i­cal ad­min­is­tra­tors and politi­cians think this is airy-fairy non­sense when ap­plied to doc­tors but not them­selves. In fact, most doc­tors are grossly over­worked and at risk of burn-out, which goes to show that you can learn from an­other’s mis­for­tune. It can be a case of “do what I say not what I do”, as you get ad­vice from a GP who looks in dan­ger of keel­ing over from worry and ex­haus­tion.

Ac­tive lis­ten­ing

Ac­tive lis­ten­ing: this is the gift of lis­ten­ing with­out in­ter­rup­tion. Most peo­ple will talk them­selves out within a minute or so. It has all sorts of ben­e­fits – the pa­tient will gen­er­ally tell you ex­actly what the prob­lem is with­out you hav­ing to think too deeply.

Ac­ci­dents will hap­pen. Anybody who has worked in A&E has great re­spect for safety equip­ment and pro­to­cols. They will never roll their eyes and sneer at “health and safety” and post memes on Face­book about the good old days when we drank from the hose, drove the car af­ter 14 pints and played with bread­knives and weren’t we grand? Life is tough enough with­out dis­re­gard­ing the ad­vice of ex­perts. Like­wise, if there is good sci­en­tific ev­i­dence, doc­tors tend to take it. There are all sorts of guide­lines and pro­to­cols for the man­age­ment and treat­ment of con­di­tions and you would want good rea­son in­deed to dis­re­gard them.

We all have the same bi­ol­ogy. You can’t blame any­one un­der 20 for feel­ing im­mor­tal and in­de­struc­tible, but af­ter that age we should prob­a­bly cop on. All that lifestyle stuff is re­ally true. Any doc­tor who has ob­served peo­ple for a decade or two can tell you that ex­er­cise makes a huge dif­fer­ence. This tru­ism is not con­fined to doc­tors. Vets can see a big dif­fer­ence be­tween a reg­u­larly walked dog with a sen­si­ble diet and an over­stuffed seden­tary pet, yet we still spend an in­or­di­nate amount of time telling peo­ple what they know al­ready. The only dif­fer­ence is the vet does not have to ad­vise on smok­ing and drink­ing as well.

Some peo­ple who have dif­fi­culty deal­ing with doc­tors have dif­fi­culty with ev­ery­body, in­clud­ing teach­ers, civil ser­vants and their neigh­bours. Give them a lit­tle pa­tience and they may blos­som.

You will make mis­takes. If you drive for long enough you will get a punc­ture

If you are good at medicine that does not mean you are good at any­thing else, and cer­tainly not busi­ness. In fact, all ev­i­dence shows most doc­tors have as much busi­ness sense as a ’70s rock star who is re­duced to play­ing in a bar in Tor­re­moli­nos. Doc­tors who charge a lot aren’t mean, just broke.

Just be­cause you are a doc­tor it does not mean you are a nice per­son. The same goes for pri­ests, po­lice and lawyers. Butch­ers, how­ever, are al­ways lovely.

Start plan­ning your re­tire­ment the day you start work. Medicine, like rugby, is de­mand­ing, and you should quit be­fore the job quits you.

The only sure way to judge a hos­pi­tal is check out the back stairs. If they are clean it is a good one.You will make mis­takes. If you drive for long enough you will get a punc­ture. Apol­o­gise and don’t cover up.

Squeamish­ness and em­bar­rass­ment both wear off. You may in a quiet mo­ment won­der why you ob­tained 720 points and paid sev­eral thou­sand quid to do this to your­self, but as you are un­likely to have quiet mo­ments that is okay.

It will be worth it when you are as wise as the rest of us.

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