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Welcome to The Medicine Mentors interview series. Our mission is to create a platform for top physician mentors to share key insights, traits and best practices based on their experiences to guide medical students and residents.

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Dec 15, 2020

Dr. Sam Brondfield, MD, MA, is an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Medicine in the Division of Hematology/ Oncology at the University of California, San Francisco. He earned his medical degree, completed a residency in internal medicine and pursued a fellowship in Medical Oncology at UCSF. He also served as the Chief Resident during his residency. He has a Masters in Education from the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on medical education and cognitive load in clinical trainees, as well as the teaching and learning process as trainees perform consults.

Today, Dr. Brondfield talks about our responsibility to not only understand our patients, but to make sure they understand the information we are providing for them in order to empower them. Part of this requires us working as a “translator” for our patients: Taking complicated medical information and translating it into words that our patients can understand. Among many reputable traits, there are two characteristics of a great physician that stand out to Dr. Brondfield: Reliability and Humility. On top of that, he reminds us that it is okay to laugh and have fun at work when appropriate. He also explains how building bonds and close relationships with those we work with is a great way to avoid burnout—and to make the day to day hardships more manageable.

Pearls of Wisdom:

1. Reliability, follow-up, and simply show up: Earn the trust and respect of those around you when you do what you say you’re going to do. Following up with patients, and simply showing up can be one of the most meaningful—and rewarding—parts of medicine.
2. Know when to be serious—but know when to laugh and enjoy yourself. Being able to laugh with colleagues and keep each other happy is a huge morale booster for taxing and emotionally draining professions such as oncology.
3.  Become a translator: Your role as a physician is also to translate complex, scientific explanations and break them down into simple terms for your patients.
4. Develop cultural humility: Don’t assume you understand the person in front of you, whoever it is.