Third-year med students get advice on caring for patients

Contributing Writer
AMA Wire
Email this page

Always be nice to the nurses. Mark Nolan Hill, MD, professor of surgery at Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University, had that and more advice for students as they prepare for their third year and the start of caring for patients.

“The nurses will save your butt,” Dr. Hill assured students at the 2016 AMA Annual Meeting earlier this month. “They can teach you—always be nice to the nurses.”

All about attitude

Nurses, along with residents, attending physicians and others, will loom large on the wards. But Dr. Hill spent much of his animated hourlong address focused on the crucial physician-patient relationship and how to shape it in the cause of good medicine.

He had no secret formulas to offer.

“The most important thing is attitude, attitude, attitude,” Dr. Hill said. “When you’re dealing with patients, listen to them. Sit down, touch them, be warm to patients.”

That approach goes hand-in-hand with clear, respectful language, free of jargon. He favors using “Mr.” and “Mrs.” when addressing patients, and he advises that you avoid making value judgments.

Roles and routines

Students have to not only treat patients but navigate the routines and roles of the wards, and Dr. Hill offered a few basics to keep in mind:

  • Don’t arrive late, so you can avoid getting behind.
  • Look neat and clean—it’s part of your image on the wards.
  • Ask questions of your professors and attendings, and don’t let the fear of looking stupid hold you back. “The only stupid thing is not asking the question,” he reminded students.
  • Seek out mentors and make ample use of them. “Always hang around people who will teach you and guide you.”

The payoff

Perhaps most challenging of all Dr. Hill’s counsel is staying optimistic and not lamenting the sacrifices you have to make as a medical student with growing obligations. Take heart when your friends head out for a tropical vacation, and you have to stay at home and study. The payoff will come.

“You are in the absolute greatest profession there is,” he said. “When you get out [there], it’s a lot of work, but I’m telling you, it’s all worth it.”

Email this page
Show Comments (0)
Jun 14, 2018
New med students have low distress levels, but that changes quickly and can worsen in residency and in practice. The AMA is pushing initiatives to help improve well-being at all levels.