During residency and fellowship, physicians are critiqued by their attending physician. For some, hearing criticism, whether it be constructive or not, can be hard. This can cause extra stress for residents or fellows who are striving for perfection, self-doubt in those who are struggling in training, or even defensiveness in those who feel it's unjust criticism.‌Recognizing constructive criticism and applying those critiques can help you become a better physician.

Do not expect yourself to be a master at everything. As you go through training you will learn that you have strengths and weaknesses. Be realistic with yourself and don't put yourself on an untouchable pedestal. The attending physician is there to help guide you and teach you the proper way to handle situations and perform procedures. As you are learning new procedures, remember that your attending can place a central line with ease due to experience over the years. Do not put yourself in a state of self-doubt because this can snowball into you doubting your medical prowess and prevent you from become the great physician you are destined to be.

Listen to the constructive criticisms. Whether it be something slight like explaining the diagnosis to the patient more thoroughly next time or more extreme, listen to what your attending says. Your attending physician is (more than likely) not picking on you for personal reasons. They have the duty and responsibility to help the training program to produce the best physicians. If they continuously repeat themselves, there is a chance that it is going to come off as being mean for no reason. Take note of what your attending critiqued you on and make a plan on how to improve.

Do not get defensive with your attending. It can be a knee-jerk reaction to defend your actions when someone is critiquing you. Learn to actually listen to your attending's critiques instead of making a counter argument in your head or vocally. By taking the time to listen to what they are saying instead of becoming argumentative, it gives you a chance to improve. Being the resident or fellow who becomes argumentative with the attending is not a good look for anyone and can haunt you in the future when looking for a full-time position.

Apply the critiques given. If your attending physician has been pointing out the same mistake multiple times, make sure that you have a plan on how to improve. This may mean spending extra time practicing running a main line or studying patient charts to diagnose more efficiently. If your attending is suggesting an adjustment to your current technique, apply it. Not only will it help you as a physician, but it shows that you are listening. This can show you are flexible and open to trying new solutions and techniques and not being stuck in your ways. This is a skill that many future employers look for in physicians.

All in all, you want to remember that your attending physician and other medical staff is around to help you on your journey to becoming a practicing physician. Take the critiques and adjust your practice styles, or at least give them a chance.

Hayley Woszczynski

Hayley Woszczynski - Physician & Program Relations Manager. You can stay connected with me on LinkedIn for all of the latest PracticeMatch articles and upcoming events.