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Five things that you shall never say to your attending physician!


Everyone occasionally says the wrong thing to the wrong person. Even if you backpedal and apologize, things can be put to rest and life goes on. But when that "wrong person" is your attending, good luck with that. The end result might be a big negative on your career. Even if it is one attending, you would think it doesn't matter, but remember attending physicians are humans and they do communicate and gossip like the rest of humanity.

To avoid such catastrophe and aim to get the best letter of recommendation, have these things in mind and make sure you don't do them:

1) "I haven't examined the patient": such a bad phrase to say. This can be perceived in multiple ways, or if you want, you can name your self "late", "lazy" or "unprepared". You can soften it by saying "I was helping another patient after they fell down and I didn't have enough time to examine my patient". Or you can say "I was helping the code team during the 30 minute code and things got complicated". That will buy you a ticket out of your problem. The greatest answer would be "I tried doing the neurological exam but I am not sure if he had roomberg sign, can you please help me verify that?" This sentence will show your attending that you want to learn.

2) "I can't stand working with .....", your attending doesn's have time to deal with your relationships especially when they are running a busy team. Try to deal with it yourself.

3) "That's not part of what I am supposed to do", Oh yeah EGO. Let's say your attending asks you to do something that is not part of your "tasks", just do it. "Helping a patient walk around the ward", "Do chest PT", "turn the patient", we all know that it's not your responsibility and believe me your attending knows too; but regardless just do it without complaining. Actually, say "Sure, I will do that right away". That shows your devotion to medicine and love to patients.

4) "I am bored". Big Big No! Find something fun without involving your attending. You can say something like: "I would like to see more complex patients".

5) Liar Liar Liar! If your attending asks you a question about a patient, if you don't know the answer, say "I don't know" but do NOT by any mean create any answer no matter how much it would affect the outcome. Honesty is one of the most important characteristic of a doctor. If your attending discovered that you have lied in any certain matter, be prepared to battle the consequences.

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