"Keep 'em alive 'til eight-oh-five."
As a resident in medicine, that was our mantra. (We turned over our patients to the next on-call residents at morning report each day at seven AM). "Keeeping 'em alive" meant you were a capable resident. To not acheive this goal was a sign of weakness amongst our peers - a tongue-in-cheek way of ascerting your clinical acumen between peers - and it was the prevailing zeitgeist for training at the time.
And in some ways, it's not a bad goal to aspire to as a doctor.
Each year, we're all asked to decide on next year's professional goals that we'd like to achieve in the upcoming year. "They must be measurable," they say.
At first, I must say I flinched at this idea. My normally cynical and paranoid self immediately intuited where this was going - "won't be long before they tie my pay to whether I meet my pre-determined goals by next year."
But it might be valuable to consider one's goals in medicine. It helps us focus on what's important and what we'd like to achieve. Lots of tiny goals achieved by larger system goals possible.
But what goals might need to be considered when seeing patients and caring for the sick?
Is it to do more and see more people in less time, thereby helping more people?
Is it to grow your procedural volume?
Is it to arrive in clinic on time?
Or is it to enroll more research patients than ever before?
Or is it to stop and listen, hold more hands, and slow down a bit more?
Or to get home before 7PM each night?
Or make every meeting on time?
Or learn a new procedure?
What is clear is that many of these goals serve different masters. Each goal is critical to the master served.
But what stuck me with this exercise is that the family master and the patient master never ask for these goals to be articulated. Workplace goals are. As such, workplace goals will always get bigger over the years and have the potential to to supercede family- and patient-related goals.
My personal goal is to never let that happen.