No matter where you practice medicine, if your duties include patient care then you are going to interact with other oncologists. In some cases you may question the quality of their care. Help your peers to become better physicians by respecting them first, then relaying your concerns to them. Here are some examples of how not to do it, paired with kinder, gentler alternatives.
Artwork by Jon Carter, cartertoons.com
So you graduated at the top of your class, finished a prestigious residency, and are now toiling away in the battle to make cancer a disease of the past. Perhaps you are in private practice, or a professor at the university, or working for a hospital-based cancer center. No matter where you hang out your shingle, if your duties include patient care then you are going to be interacting with other oncologists. You will round with them, conference with them, cover for them, and, as all of us are wont to do, judge the quality of their patient care. You may find some of their ideas of dubious quality. You may cringe at their communication skills. You may even wonder if the Neanderthals are not as extinct as people say they are. When this happens you must resist the temptation to rip into your colleagues. No oncologist can truly be considered exceptional and unconditionally admirable unless they learn the gentle art of tact-of constructive criticism, finessed and delivered in such a way as to minimize the risk of sparking a tantrum, let alone a long hiatus in the nearest tavern. Help your peers to become better physicians by respecting them first, then relaying your concerns to them. Here are some examples of how not to do it, paired with a kinder, gentler response.
Your partner has just returned from vacation, they are already tense knowing they have a lot to catch up on. Don’t make it worse. They cover for you when it’s your turn to be off.
I suppose you have never forgotten to order something for your patients. C’mon, cut your colleague some slack if a minor detail is missing.
Hey, if you weren’t involved in the decision-making process, then please refrain from making glib accusations of insanity to your partner. Listen to the logic behind the recommendation first.
Yes, we know that no one is as sharp as you when it comes to keeping up, but can you share your genius without mocking the entire faculty?
Sometimes you have to put in some face time at your child’s events. It just makes you work harder for the rest of the day. No shaming allowed.
If a physician is chronically late let the practice manager deal with it, if they are having a bad day maybe lend a hand. Could be you next time.
Just because a patient has a complication doesn’t mean your partner is the next coming of Dr. Frankenstein. Better to keep your focus on the problem at hand.
It’s best to assume that your partner is neither lazy nor cutting corners; it’s always possible the patient didn’t listen or is in denial. Best to hear the whole story from your partner and communicate concerns with tact.