Blog | Monday, March 5, 2018

Why I love inpatient internal medicine ward attending

After 38 years of my career I still get excited making rounds. It was 45 years ago when I discovered that I was meant to be an internist; it was my first week on the internal medicine rotation. Prior to that week I had no idea!

Internal medicine combines understanding medical science and people. Internal medicine requires detective work and compassion. Internal medicine typifies what I thought of as I thought of being a physician.

Practicing internal medicine is honorable. One need not do more than that to contribute to patients. But from my student years the teaching of internal medicine attracted me.

I remember being an intern and wanting to help the students make progress. As a resident I wanted to help my interns grow. When I first had the opportunity to become the ward attending physician I knew I had found my niche.

When I started, I was likely very average. I had great enthusiasm, but I did not understand how to do my best job as a teacher. But even then, my greatest pleasures included seeing patients improve and seeing learners grow.

To this day, those thrills continue. There is no reward greater than infecting a student with a love for internal medicine. Seeing them grow through the 3rd and 4th of medical school, and then become great house officers epitomizes our goal.

We all need great internists. We who enjoy teaching work to help our wonderful learners on their journey to taking our place. These days when I make rounds I get consults from former learners who have subspecialized. To see so many former students and residents succeed warms my soul.

Teaching internal medicine has been and will continue to be my first calling. While I do many other things in medicine, nothing will ever surpass the joy of helping our learners develop while participating in the care of our patients. Caring for patients is our calling. Teaching others to care well for their patients multiples our efforts.

db is the nickname for Robert M. Centor, MD, MACP. db stands both for Dr. Bob and da boss. He is an academic general internist at the University of Alabama School of Medicine, and the former Regional Dean for the Huntsville Regional Medical Campus of UASOM. He still makes inpatient rounds regularly at the Birmingham VA and Huntsville Hospital. His current titles are Professor-Emeritus and Chair-Emeritus of the ACP Board of Regents. This post originally appeared at his blog, db's Medical Rants.