• Michael Docktor, MD

Start Your Journey With The Right Tools

Dear doctors, congratulations on this well-earned milestone in your medical career! I remember Match Day fondly, the anticipation and anxiety are unforgettable. While this may seem like the end of an unbelievably long journey, in truth, it is just the beginning and you’ll look back on it with incredible fondness and amazement at how long ago it seems.

It is truly an exciting time to finally be setting out into the clinical world, where you can begin to care for patients and put those long years of studying and training to work. As many of you likely wrote in your application essays, there is nothing more rewarding and inspiring than caring for a patient and his or her health. This passion and compassion will no doubt drive you to work harder than ever, sleep less than ever, and continue to put yourself last at every possible opportunity for the good of your patients.

A New Set of Challenges

Now more than ever, the hardships you will face as a physician are significant, from a global pandemic to the unjustness and social determinants of healthcare, to the very fabric of our society and its reckoning with race, diversity, and equity. Beyond all that, to be blunt, the practice of medicine has become and certainly will feel like a never-ending list of to-dos, some clinical and many administrative in nature. You will quickly find yourselves creating lists upon lists of little checkboxes, some to track your credentialing, many to capture the growing list of patient to-dos and maybe even some personal ones. I’ve worn a variety of hats the last 15 years since medical school as a resident, fellow, attending gastroenterologist, and now CEO/co-founder of a health-tech company. At Dock Health, we’re focused on helping doctors and teams better manage all of their to-dos, and to take better care of ourselves so that we may take the best care of our patients.

Healthcare Is a Team sport

By now I trust you’ve heard, “be nice to the nurses, they’ll teach you everything and know the patients better than you ever will." Not only is this largely accurate, but it’s a powerful commentary on the importance of teamwork. As you set out on this first phase of your medical career, I’d like to stress how important it is to remain humble, listen to your colleagues and your patients, and work together as a team. Communication is key, and in a busy clinical world, it’s more important than ever. At Dock, we firmly believe that everyone is a provider, not just the doctors and nurses, but also the therapists, lab technicians, administrative support staff, and the many others who help in the collective effort of providing care for patients.

Everything in Healthcare Is a Task

As a resident, you will now be responsible for more than you ever managed. Not only does the gravity of these new-found tasks set in, but the sheer volume and pace will take some getting used to. We all have our ways of doing things (or will develop them) from scribbling little boxes in different colors to folding neat corners of rounding lists. Unfortunately, time management and process-improvement skills are not commonly taught in medical school, so often we adopt the practices of those around us or fumble along on our own. Having “tried to remember” my tasks for much of my career, I can now confidently share that there are better ways to stay on top of administrative tasks. Be structured, be deliberate in creating systems that work for you to capture the work to be done, delegate where appropriate and track your tasks. Simply reading an email or jotting something down on a Post-it will not scale well.

Put Your Oxygen Mask on First

Residency was the most invigorating and exciting time of my medical career to date. You’ll never be more exhilarated to work, explore and learn. Beyond the usual advice you’ll get about resilience, balance and duty hours, it’s important to remember to balance and distribute self-care within your practice, not just between call nights. Take a moment to talk to a patient versus writing another note, drink water, eat crackers and cranberry juice from the snack room, sleep when you can. Capture your work so that you can synthesize, prioritize and tackle it in the brief moments of rest or quiet you may have.

Today is Match Day 2021 and residents everywhere are celebrating their hard-earned, but new status. I feel both humbled and proud to provide the Dock Health platform free to all residents today and everyday. While I’m not expecting you to sign up this afternoon -- you deserve to celebrate! -- I do hope to see you in our community soon. We are here to help you, the next generation of physicians, thrive in your residency and beyond.

Go get ‘em!

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