Every year that physicians have used social media, we’ve been offering advice for medical graduates. Tips for surviving the unsurvivable are almost too numerous to follow on Twitter. They take the shape of a virtual Little Engine That Could. “I think you can. I think you can,” we tell them.
But the reality that few of us ever like to disclose is that change is hard. In fact, my advice might be to buckle up.
This year’s move from medical school to residency will be just one of many transitions that this generation will face. Our field will change faster over the coming decades than at any point in history. Disruption of the foundational elements of how we frame disease and therapeutics will occur by the year rather than by the century. And the ability to adapt to a rapidly changing environment will be a defining feature of this medical generation.
Medical life within this generation will be a series of real-time upgrades. Doctors will all be endless newbies. Advice for medical graduates will become more challenging over time.
Beyond the predictable basics of ‘drink more water’ and ‘listen to the patient’ there are few among us who can help these young doctors plan for what’s ahead.
In 2012 when Eric Topol delivered the commencement address to the graduating class of Baylor College of Medicine he was asked what would mark a key attribute of a medical school candidate today. His prescient response: Flexibility.
Change and transition is hard. But we might look beyond survival and see the unique opportunity that we have at this point in our profession’s history.
Congratulations and welcome to the medical generation of endless newbies.
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Image via the National Library of Medicine