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Are You a Bad Apple? 5 Steps out of The Crab Apple Funk

Posted Jan 14 2009 6:32pm

Much has been made of disruptive physicians, giving birth to “code of conduct” booklets that are required reading for physicians, as well as special coaches that help deal with physician behavior.  In my career, I have met only one disruptive physician, a neurosurgeon who was so dismissive and rude to the staff that I felt embarassed for my profession.  However, I think you may recognize some of the other ‘bad apples’ that can make the work day miserable.  You may even recognize yourself.  We all lapse in to ‘funks’, but if you are see yourself here consistently, time to work out a strategy to change from crab apple to golden delicious!

Types of crab apples:

The jerk: this physician delights in being critical, with out offering concrete suggestions on improvement.  Frequently condescending and short  (rude?).  Favorite comment, “Those ED docs are just sieves, man.  Why don’t they take two minutes and actually think?!”  (Heard last night, during my shift.)

The slacker: looks for as many ways as possible not to do the work.  Finds excuses on why tests and procedures can’t possibly be done.  At one institution where I work, if a particular cardiologist is on call, we all wait until the next day (if possible) to request a consult so we will get a different physician.  This particular cardiologist is famous for writing, “anti-arrythmics per hospitalist team.”

The depressive contrarian:  finds as many ways as possible to tell you that something won’t work.  Is so focused on what is wrong, doesn’t see what is right.  Guaranteed to make you feel as grey as a thunder cloud.  Chief sport is complaining. 

So what is to be done?

Here are steps to golden applehood:

  1. Practice optimism.  Before bringing out the sixshooter to gun down any thing remotely positive, try and think in terms of positive outcomes and solutions.
  2. Be civil.  We have lost much in the way we talk to each.  As your mom said, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”  Say please and thank you, don’t interrupt, and pretend to be Emily Post, even just briefly.
  3. Be honest, but not brutal.  Stick with the facts, and don’t embellish with emotions.
  4. Listen actively.  Listen much, talk little.
  5. Focus on   doing the right thing, rather than being right.
  6. Don’t be afraid to seek professional counseling.  Why go through life miserable?

Resources: Bad apples  and Anger Blog.

      
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