This episode marks the 50th session of the podcast, and I start it off by reciting the modern version of the Hippocratic Oath, which is being used in many medical schools today when physicians graduate at the end of medical school.
In the light of celebrating the podcast’s 50th episode, we also talk about the 16 Golden Rules of Medicine.
Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
The 16 Golden Rules of Medicine
Now let’s jump right into the 16 Golden Rules of Medicine:
First, do no harm.
Your job is to treat the patients, not harm them. Don’t do things that have a high potential of hurting them.
Always be professional.
You will be working with other professionals, so show the respect that your colleagues and patients deserve. Even in difficult and taxing situations, always remember that you are a physician and you’re taking care of other people. Do not lose your cool.Always remember that you are a physician and you're taking care of other people. Do not lose your cool.Click To Tweet
Show respect for everyone you work with.
Be respectful with everybody, from colleagues to the nurses to the janitors, because every one of them plays a crucial role in the hospital.
Always acknowledge your mistakes with patients. Don’t be dishonest with your team or your patients.
Some states have “I’m sorry” laws wherein a patient can’t sue you and use your apology as testimony in court. But in any case, you can’t hide your mistakes from patients.
You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of other people.
There is such a high rate of burnout in medicine because so many physicians put other people first over themselves. You have to be of sound mind and health to be able to take care of another person.
Don’t go searching for zebras. Always think about what is the most common and likely diagnosis.
Thinking outside of the box is good, but don’t get so off-target that you’re missing the whole point.
Don’t order a test just because you can bill for it.
Ask yourself if results from this test will change your medical management of that patient. If not, don’t order it. Always think about the patient first.If results from a test are not going to change your medical management of the patient, don’t order it.Click To Tweet
Don’t start drinking alcohol or doing drugs when you’re stressed or burned out—get help!
Go talk to somebody. Seek help. Resorting to drugs or alcohol will only add to your problems, and you could risk losing everything you’ve worked so hard for.
Go with your gut.
When someone doesn’t look good or something is not going well, speak up. Get help. Trust your instincts. Don’t use your gut for diagnosing the patient, but notice that the patient just doesn’t look right, and use that cue to dig deeper. Learn to master your sixth sense.
Get help from those with more experience when you need it.
Don’t just rely on yourself when you think you need help. Always use your resources as a physician.
Don’t argue with your colleagues from other departments/services.
We’re all on the same team, and arguing in the chart is a big legal no-no. Don’t burn bridges. You might need help from those other services at some point.
Always document everything.
If it wasn’t documented, in the legal world, it never happened. If something goes wrong, they always go back to the charts and electronic medical records. Every conversation you have with a patient or a family member should be documented.If it wasn’t documented, in the legal world, it never happened.Click To Tweet
Be careful about giving out medical advice to family and friends.
If the person is not your patient and something goes wrong, you can be held liable. Don’t feel bad saying you’re uncomfortable trying to diagnose them over the phone or even in person, especially if there is no opportunity to examine them.
When dealing with difficult patients, always keep in mind that it’s not personal.
The patient in front of you may be having the worst day of their life or have serious psychological problems. Never assume things you don’t know about them or their life. Just do the best you can for them as a doctor.
Don’t offer something to a patient that they don’t need.
For example, if a patient is terminally ill and not going to benefit from any additional therapy, don’t offer a surgery that will not help. Be careful not to offer “pizza toppings.”
Always try to abide by the principle of beneficence.
Beneficence means doing things to promote the wellbeing of the patient. Even if you can’t heal the patient or cure his/her disease, you can treat the patient with kindness and offer a listening ear.Warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon's knife or the chemist's drug.Click To Tweet
Links and Other Resources
- Modern Version of the Hippocratic Oath
- Check out my Premed Playbook series of books (available on Amazon), with installments on the personal statement, the medical school interview, and the MCAT
- Related episode: Interview with Dr. Drummond about Physician Burnout.
- Related episode: What Is the Future of Medicine, and Should It Matter to You?
- Need MCAT Prep? Save on tutoring, classes, and full-length practice tests by using promo code “MSHQ” for 10% off Next Step full-length practice tests or “MSHQTOC” for $50 off MCAT tutoring or the Next Step MCAT Course at Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep)!