Friday, July 26, 2013

I'm Nervous, And I Think That's a Good Thing

I've been practicing pathology for about 6 years, after 4 years of medical school and 6 years of training.  Cases that I used to pore and sweat over have become routine.  Sure, there are always cases to challenge your brain, share with your colleagues, or send out for expert consultation, but after 6 years I have cruised into a "more comfortable" zone.  I can triage efficiently, and getting called to radiology for wet preps or to the OR for frozen sections is no longer a paralyzing experience (for the most part).  The wall I built around myself, the mask of confidence hiding insecurity, has slowly come down.  I can relax and banter with my colleagues while deciding if there is cancer on the slide or not.  I think this is true of all pathologists that are a few years in - I laugh when I think back to what I agonized over during my first two years in private practice.

Last year the partner in charge of CAP (College of American Pathology) lab inspections retired.  I volunteered to take his place, as a team leader.  We are in charge of lab inspections for three hospitals - every two years each hospital assembles a team to lead an inspection.  I did my first one last November - whew it was a blur.  I had a veteran compliance officer leading me through.  "Even a blind pig can find an acorn every once in a while," I kept thinking as I went through that inspection.  I was prepared, but shell shocked by the strange experience.  This time she is on vacation.  I am in charge.  Luckily I am leading a brilliant, experienced team that will make my job much easier.

I became a pathologist to hide behind a microscope.  With a few exceptions, such as being interviewed on TV with the Swine Flu breakout, I've been able to maintain my anonymity.  Lab inspections fly in the face of anonymity.  I interview the hospital CEO's, the lab directors, the medical Chief's of Staff.  The team has specific information to mine and report in a very short amount of time.  We summarize our findings in a large room at the end of the day.  Then we go out to dinner and celebrate a hard day's work.  That's the part I'm looking forward to.

I find, as I am preparing for this inspection, that I am grateful for new challenges and experiences to shake me up. It's what got me here in the first place, but it's easy to forget when it becomes, all too soon, remote.  And as the butterflies circle in my stomach as I am going to sleep, I wonder and hope that my fellow MiM's also have new experiences to keep them from banality and boredom.  They must.  It's a part of the job description.

So if you are reading this today, wish me silent luck.  I'm inspecting.

4 comments:

  1. Hope it went well and that you are enjoying/celebrating with your team!

    Always open to new experiences and challenges- the growth and accomplishment that comes with them is worth a lot in job-reward currency.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good for you for stepping up to this new challenge! I also think it is very important to keep pushing the envelope. There are so many ways to do that. One thing I have learned about myself is that I tend to pick hard new things to do because I like a challenge. It's fun and stimulating to see if I can do it, whatever it is. Life would be boring without a challenge here and there. That is actually why I picked neurosurgery as a specialty. I hope things went well, and I look forward to hearing about your next step out of the comfort zone! :-)
    -gcs15

    ReplyDelete
  3. Good Luck. I was recently appointed Vice Chief of Staff... so I feel our pain/excitement.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Good luck and good skill. Thanks for sharing. There is some healthy nervousness that keeps us on our toes and as engaged as possible.

    ReplyDelete

Comments on posts older than 14 days are moderated as a spam precaution. There may be a delay between submitting your comment and its publishing. Thanks for commenting!