Awesome and Amazing

October 21, 2019 4:02 PM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

President's Message, October 2019
Jeff Pothof, MD, FACEP
WACEP President

It was well over a year ago when one of my colleagues and fellow flight physician, David Hindle, launched a new conference at our staff meeting.  Entitled “Awesome and Amazing,” it was a case conference that highlighted some of the best medical care teams in the flight program delivered to critical patients.  It seemed like such an obvious thing to share and an effective tool to promote learning and collaboration on our teams, but also 180 degrees opposite from what we as clinicians typically experience.

I think it’s just human nature to focus on those things that aren’t quite perfect or still need a little fine tuning.  I postulate the rigors of medical education and the hoops we all jump through predispose us to being hypercritical of ourselves.  I’ve been to many a lecture hall to discuss cases at the monthly M&M case review conference.  Most cases would not be well described by the “awesome” adjective.  I’ve looked at the blinded data during performance reviews and must secretly admit that there is a twinge of self-disappointment when I’m not a top performer on any single metric.  I’m not arguing that we shouldn’t learn from our mistakes, and I’m not saying that we shouldn’t continue to hold ourselves to a very high standard.  I do think we’d all be well served by just as frequently looking back to those awesome and amazing moments that seemingly come out of nowhere during our careers.

I encourage you to take a moment to reflect back to a time when you were part of something that was “awesome and amazing.”  Think about a time when you added immense value and where your presence on a shift or in a room made an inflection point in someone else’s life trajectory.  Anyone who’s committed themselves to a career in emergency medicine has these moments.  I find that looking back to those times helps make that overnight shift that just won’t end a little shorter, or that case where you wish you could have a do-over sting just a little bit less. 

So, without overly inflating our egos, I embolden all of you to spend a little more time thinking about the awesome and amazing things you’ve done in addition to the things you strive to be better at.  It’s an important balance that paints a more accurate portrait of who we are as emergency physicians.