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7 tips for new doctors

young doctors in class

Part of becoming a doctor is learning how to cope with the immense pressure that comes with the job. Fortunately, getting advice from those who have gone before—as well as other members of the health care team—can make the process a little easier. Recently, ACOG shared advice from experienced health care professionals geared toward new doctors—such as how to manage the workload, practice self-care, and learn from your team. Here is some of the advice published by ACOG:

“Be extremely organized and make sure you make a system for all the things you have to get done during the day, prioritizing those that are most important. If you find you’re overwhelmed, ask for help. This is not an easy transition, and your seniors and attendings are always there to support you and help you learn.” – Rena Malik, MD, Director of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine 

“Ask for help when you need it. While you’re eager to prove your abilities, showing humility in the workplace can be more important initially. Your colleagues with more experience will feel valued and respected when asked their opinion, and if you’re a new physician, they’ll perceive this as maturity rather than weakness. Use your favors wisely, too, so that other employees don’t perceive you as someone who is only making more work for them. Who you ask for help is important as well. Nurses, therapists, and other providers can help you be more productive than you can on your own, but they aren’t your minions. Don’t assume that because you’re a doctor, they’re going to follow every order you write. If they call you with an alternate suggestion for your patient, listen respectfully. You don’t always have to concede to their requests but choose your battles.” – Melissa Crickard, MD, contributing journalist for WGRZ news and author of three novels 

“When I was a new doctor, I wish I knew it was okay to make mistakes. Although we try our best, sometimes things do not turn out the way we planned. I wish I would’ve been better at not being so hard on myself. As long as you are working hard to give the absolute best care to your patients you can be proud of your efforts. Along these lines, not every patient you see will love you. Don’t beat yourself up; do your best because it’s the best you can do.” – Jeremy Green, MD, board-certified dermatologist 

“Give yourself time to learn. A lot of young doctors are stressed because they aren’t familiar with certain procedures or diagnoses. However, this is completely normal. The idea of residency is for you to get acquainted with a variety of methods and actually practice what you have learned. Don’t be too hard on yourself, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Being assertive is highly valued, especially since other doctors don’t have time to chase you to explain things.” – Lina Velikova, MD, PhD, Sleep Expert at  

“Wear good shoes. You’re going to be on your feet all day, and for doctors, ‘all day’ really means all day. If you don’t wear ergonomic shoes or insoles, you’ll develop long-term back and joint pain. You should also stretch often and practice yoga or calisthenics. Doctors are required to lift and move heavy objects and patients from time to time. If you don’t practice good lift technique, you could injure your neck or back.” – Sandy Griffin, LPN, CHPLN, Quality Assurance Coordinator at Hospice of South Louisiana 

“Have your own doctor. Doctors tend to treat themselves far too often. We need an impartial person to catch things we are not looking for ourselves. If something feels a little ‘off,’ get it checked out. You should also make time for adequate sleep. Sleep improves memory, mood, and sexual function, reduces irritability, and so much more. It should be a big priority for everyone, including doctors.” – Thomas Jeneby, MD, board-certified plastic surgeon and owner of the Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery Center of South Texas 

In response to these valuable tips, Sermo physicians weighed-in with their thoughts, ideas and advice for new doctors.  

In a poll of 300+ global Sermo physicians, 95% said being dynamic and flexible is an essential part of being a doctor; and 67% said their career is different than they expected it to be. Ninety-six percent said their practice has evolved significantly since they started medicine; and 94% say they notice a difference between doctors starting their careers now compared to when they started. Eighty-three percent say they continue to consult and connect with peers and/or a mentor.  

Here’s more of what Sermo physicians had to say on this topic, in their own words:  

Remember that you are treating human beings, someone’s mother/father, daughter/son, sister/brother. How would you treat you? Don’t take short cuts. Don’t let non-physicians make clinical decisions. Stand up for your patients and your profession. Don’t feel forced to be politically correct. Call out stupidity when you see it.

Emergency Medicine, U.S.

I tell Residents to work from their first day practicing Medicine until their last day doing everything possible to keep government OUT of Medicine.

Orthopedic Surgery, U.S.

Practice the 3 A’s in this order: Be Affable, Available and Able. Compassion is not over rated.

Dermatology, U.S.

Do whatever you need to do to maintain control over your work world. Don’t overextend yourself financially. Maintain a healthy balance in your life with family, friends, activities and hobbies. Finally, know when it’s time to quit.

Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, U.S.

“To cure sometimes, to relieve often, to comfort always (Anon).”

General Surgery, U.S.

Be less technical and more human.

Obstetrics & Gynecology, France

Dear New Doctor

1) Forget about EMR. Remember, you are a physician. Doctor in Latin means TEACHER. Spend time getting to know, listen to and touching your patients than trying to input info into a worthless EMR system. 

2) Make every patient feel special. When was the last time you ever told a patient that they made YOUR DAY? 

3) Communicate with specialists. Dont just fed x your patients to someone they dont know. Your specialists must also communicate with you. Remember, sometimes specialists and PCPs dont always agree, but the two of you can work it out for the benefit of the patient. 

4) Always remember, there is ALWAYS something you can do as a physician to improve one’s life.  

5) Doctors can’t always cure, but we can heal. 

Best of luck to you. 


Physician with 38 years of experience

Diabetology, U.S.