Appreciation: sometimes you just need to give your colleague a pat on the back for a job well done

By: Dr. Chris Smith, Internal Medicine
I came to Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) in 2012 after a year as chief medical resident at Toronto General Hospital. I came having never worked or trained here, but I had heard so many positive things from colleagues and learners that I decided to come and meet with people in the medicine division. I was immediately struck by the dedication of physicians to the bedside care of their patients and by their commitment to improving the whole system of care in and out of the hospital. More than anything it was this culture within the medicine division that drew me here – a culture that feels appreciative and collegial.
What does that appreciation look like? It’s is when a colleague says “I see you made an interesting diagnosis on the weekend, can you tell me more about it,” or “I understand you had a challenging patient last night, let me tell you about a similar experience I had.”
These conversation openers often lead to rich discussions that serve many benefits. They help me feel as though we’re in this together, that any one of us could have faced a challenging case and come out of it the next day. These conversations also add to my confidence in my abilities as a diagnostician and clinician. Finally, they lead to learning about unique or rare diagnoses that we may have discovered or unique symptoms that we were able to manage. It’s through these conversations that I grow, feel valued and am able to move on from tough days.
As a physician I also see appreciation expressed across departments and programs. Rarely is this appreciation tied to a specific event or act, but more a generic thumbs up, if you will. When I cover a shift on a different unit, someone says “Oh, you’re on our unit this week. Great!” Other times a physicians will refer a patient to me despite never having met referring physicians.
I can’t speak positively enough about the supportive sub-culture in the medicine department that I both experience and contribute to. I often hear that other departments and units have great sub-cultures too. But what I would like to see more of is a cross-contamination of these; for all of us to reach across our boundaries and support colleagues across the hospital.
Sometimes you just need to give your colleague a pat on the back for a job well done, even if that colleague is on a different team. We should all step out of our bubble and congratulate members across MGH teams; for example, congratulate facility services for turning over patient rooms quickly during a surge, or diagnostic imaging for squeezing in that extra patient on a packed day.
If we do this, it will make us all better. It’s the people we interact with daily that make this a great place for staff and patients and keeps us here. Let’s take the best of all our sub-cultures and share them across the whole MGH community.

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