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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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Sep 24, 2020

Robert Wachter, MD, is the Chair of the Department of Medicine at University of California—San Francisco. He is the Holly Smith Distinguished Professor in Science and Medicine as well as the Benioff Endowed Chair in Hospital Medicine. Dr. Wachter has authored six books and over 250 articles, and he is a frequent contributor to the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Dr. Wachter considered to be the father of the hospitalist field, which is one of the fastest growing specialties in modern medicine. He also coined the term, ‘hospitalist’ in 1996. Dr. Wachter is a past President of the Society of Hospital Medicine and a past Chair of the American Board of Internal Medicine. In 2004, he received the John M. Eisenberg Award, the nation's top honor in patient safety. Modern Healthcare magazine has ranked him as one of the 50 most influential physician executives in the US thirteen times, and he was number #1 on this list in 2015. Dr. Wachter’s book, The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age was a New York Times science bestseller.

One of the things we often learn as young physicians is to say “No”. Today, one of the most influential physicians in America, Dr. Robert Wachter, explains that most people who have been successful in the early part of their careers have learned to say “Yes”. And say “Yes” a lot. These early career physicians have not been afraid to try new things, maximizing the number of experiences and their 'shots on goal'. Sometimes they fail, but more often than not, end up finding their passion in areas they may have never realized. So make a commitment today: The next opportunity that comes your way, start with a “Yes” and reinvent yourself!

Pearls of Wisdom:

1. Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself continually throughout your career.
2. Be proactive in sending a signal to your mentor that you are looking to be pushed, and that you are not just here for a pat on the back.
3. You find your passion by saying yes more than no. By acting rather than just thinking. When we say yes to new opportunities, we engage in more experiences, and better learn what it is we like and don’t like.