The Value of Advice – #TipsForNewDocs

#TipsForNewDocs (C)

“The only good thing to do with good advice is pass it on; it is never of any use to oneself.” ~ Oscar Wilde

Listen to today’s post on the go or continue reading below …


As you may know, I am a Twitter enthusiast and believe it is a powerful tool, not only for physicians, but for anyone else who wants to learn, share and engage online. Not too long ago, I discovered an active hashtag, #tipsfornewdocs, that a lot of medical tweeters post to. In case you haven’t jumped into Twitter yet, a hashtag categorizes tweets into a common subject area, and thus, makes it easy to share and find information on a given topic. This hashtag has generated a plethora of great advice and words of wisdom. I am currently preparing a talk for first year medical students, so these ideas and tips that have been shared on Twitter seem even more insightful and relevant.

Almost 21 years have passed since my first day of medical school (yikes!), and so, it is easy to forget the questions someone might have as they embark on their own journey. Such life transitions seem like an ideal time to receive advice, however, some of the best advice you can get, you may not even know to ask for. On the other hand, how do you know when to give unsolicited advice?

Giving advice

I personally struggle with this sometimes because my profession is built around giving my opinion and advice, whether it is requested or not. Even if someone is not looking for, or wanting, advice, it may be appropriate to intervene as a healthcare professional. For instance, “You have recently turned 50 years old and have never had a mammogram, it is definitely time to consider having one done”.

I like the how the Lifehacker article “How to give advice to a friend without being a know-it-all” differentiates between opinions, expert advice and just being a sounding board. Depending on the circumstance, it might be appropriate to give your personal opinion, versus expert advice, versus being a sounding board for the other person, where one is not necessarily better than the other.

How do you give unsolicited advice without coming off as opinionated or judgemental? In the end, some people are just better at both giving and receiving advice than others. Two important factors include the relationship between the people and the circumstances around the advice. I consider myself to be fairly receptive to the advice and opinions of others, but it does depend on other factors.

Some of the best advice I have ever received has been from those that know me the best. Approximately 3 years ago, my husband encouraged me to start a website and blog. He told me to consider it a hobby, to take some of the pressure off, and not to worry about where it might lead. Now 2 ½ years since my first blog post, I have not only fostered a hobby, but I have also been able to fuse my passion with my work.

Just remember, no matter what the circumstance, the secret to giving advice is “Once you’ve given it, don’t concern yourself with whether it is followed or not”.

Advice on #tipsfornewdocs

The following is a list of my favourite recent #tipsfornewdocs tweets:

1) Dr. K @medschooladvice – July 1st

Five steps to interviewing patient:

Step 1: introduce yourself

Step 2: listen

Step 3: listen

Step 4: listen

Step 5: listen

2) Ben Dean @bendean1979  – July 14th

Be yourself and do not be afraid to politely question things – we need to encourage a more open culture of discussion.

3) Sue Manby @SueManby  – July 15th

Listen. A history is worth a thousand tests.

4) Alex Langford @PsychiatrySHO – July 15th

Be nice to everyone. Especially the nurses. They have seen hundreds of new doctors before and can save your skin.

5) Sara T, M.D. @SaraTMD – July 15th

‪#tipsfornewdocs is an excellent example of community building in medicine. My tip today: respect. For patients, colleagues & self.

6) DrDean @DeanEggitt – July 23rd

Cry when a patient dies. Seriously. The reason why you became a Doctor is because you care. Please never lose that.

What is the best advice you have ever received? Who gave it to you?


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