Advice #5: A simple phone call goes a long way

One late afternoon while in residency I saw Dr. Stephen Orlin, my ophthalmology attending, sitting in an exam room with a stack of charts in front of him. He was on the phone asking his patient how they were feeling after their cataract surgery earlier that morning.

The majority of them didn’t have any complaints except some mild discomfort or some leftover post-anesthesia grogginess. A few of them had a question regarding the eye patch they were wearing or whether it was ok to take some tylenol.

I approached Dr. Orlin about what he was doing and he told me, “If there’s one thing you take away from your training, it’s this…

‘Do your best to call your patients the evening following their surgery. They’ll really appreciate it.’

Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, it is. It only takes a few minutes out of the doctor’s time, but it will mean the world to your patients. Even though it may have been your 14th cataract surgery or your 5th colonoscopy that day, to them, any surgery is a major deal.

A simple “how are you feeling?” can go a long way. And don’t outsource it to a technician. It’s genuine when it’s coming from you.

I saw this saying printed somewhere: “People may not remember what you said or what you did, but they’ll always remember how you made them feel.”

Seven years into practice, I’ve followed Dr. Orlin’s advice and I’ve found that my patients really appreciate the extra effort. Yours will too.

Previous blog: When things go wrong in the OR, go Zen

#residency #advice #medicaleducation #ophthalmology #medstudent #acgme

Robert Wong, MD
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