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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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Nov 25, 2020

Sima Desai, MD, FACP, is a Professor of Medicine, Division of Hospital Medicine, Vice Chair of Education in the Department of Medicine and Program Director of the Internal Medicine residency program at Oregon Health & Science University. Dr. Desai graduated from the University of New Mexico School of Medicine and pursued her residency at Oregon Health. Shortly after completing her chief residency year, she was recruited to start the hospitalist program at Oregon Health. Her Interests include medical education, adult learning theory, diagnostic reasoning, and mentorship. She has been awarded the Parker J. Palmer Courage to Teach Award by the ACGME, Marion L. Krippaehne MD Humanism Award at Oregon Health and the Walter McDonald Award for Young Physicians from the American College of Physicians, an organization that she has held leadership positions in including Vice Chair & Chair of the Council of Young Physicians.

‘Good’ is where you are right now. And ‘great’, according to Dr. Sima Desai, is that you will be better tomorrow. Today, Dr. Desai teaches us what makes a great internist. Part of it means ditching the idea we’re not worthy of asking for help. Another part of it means shifting our perspective from “what did I do” to “what can I do?”. It also means letting go of the idea that we’ll one day know everything (hence lifelong learning). So the best thing we can do is commit to challenge ourselves every day to find the answers to what we do not yet know. To carve out time to work on ourselves. And to never let our learning become stagnant. The most important question we must ask ourselves to become a great internist is: How can I do better?

Pearls of Wisdom:

1. Rather than stating what you did do for someone, ask what you can do for someone to make their life better.
2. Ditch the idea that we are not worthy of reaching out. Or that the question we want to ask is insignificant. The reality is, mentors are there to help us.
3. Find your reset button: Slow down one or two extra minutes in a patient encounter. When we see ourselves rushing, stop and reset. Ask ourselves why we are doing this work. And it will make a powerful difference in how we work, and how we treat our patients.
4. The turning point from good to great means embracing the everyday challenge to become better. And making the commitment that if we don’t know something, we’ll stop and learn it.