How Well Does the Modern Physician Adapt?
DECEMBER 28, 2016
Heidi Moawad, MD
Adaptability is a doctor's most valuable trait. What differentiates an intelligent, hard working and compassionate burned out doctor from a happy doctor? Strangely, enough, it is adaptability.
All doctors have to be intelligent – both in the ability to learn huge amounts of complicated testable knowledge and in making practical decisions. All doctors are hard working. Those who work in a profession that considers 80 hours of work per week during residency to be a fair and compassionate scheduling system and who generally read to learn more information during time off are far from lazy. All doctors must be compassionate while witnessing terrified patients alternate between tears of agony and tears of joy depending on the outcomes of life altering medical tests.
But adaptability is different. EMR, medical homes, ICD-10, the affordable care act (or the ending of the ACA) and maintenance of certification represent some of the systemic changes that can turn a physician's day to day routine and professional expectations upside down.
Is adaptability the same as passivity?
Many physicians become consumed with anger at the idea that outside regulation interferes with patient care. Yet, the truth is that most of the newly proposed policies in healthcare made such little sense and were so impractical or costly that they never actually ‘stuck’ before the projects went out of style. Certainly, articulate doctors have always played a key role in adding a realistic perspective to theoretical suggestions.
So, adapting is not the same as jumping up and rearranging everything at the drop of a hat. Instead, adaptability relies on detecting which health care shifts are worth changing your own skills for.
How Can You Adapt?
The world of medicine is undergoing huge transformations. Doctors who can take advantage of their special talents in areas such as technology, interpersonal communication, leadership or ingenuity can often grab on to new opportunities in the medical field and develop a deeper sense of career satisfaction.
For example, one physician I know has a strong talent for making people feel like they are VIPs. He developed such a robust and loyal patient base that he was able to keep many patients who would have left his practice after they experienced changes to their health insurance. Over time, as the patients aged, he found himself with a busy practice of well-established Medicare patients and a nice, smooth routine in place.
Another doctor, bogged down by regulations, decided to take the bull by the horn and really master the changing procedures for the whole department. Not long afterwards, she was able to create an administrative job for herself that made the department run smoother and built wider a network, benefiting the department and the hospital.
Your Medical Career
A career as a physician probably cannot stay free of change for years and years. Yet, adaptability can help you maintain a consistent level of satisfaction in light of inevitable changes, or it can help you lead the way into making the changes in healthcare work for you.
What changes in healthcare do you think will wither away before they become established?