Over the years I have come to realize that, in medicine, one exists in a pretty small community. Because of this fact – people [that you have never met] will have opinions of you. During my residency we all knew about the docs in the hospital that “throw tantrums in the O.R.” or “always had bad consults“. – You are not immune – . There are perceptions out there about you. These perceptions could be good or bad , but they will affect how people interact with you. They will affect how people judge you. You think these impressions occur by accident?
These perceptions 1) occur over time and 2 ) are NOT by accident. We created them. We did so with our personal interactions, our written communications, the committees that we sat on, the lectures that we gave, students that we taught and with how we practised our medicine [this last part is especially important in emergency medicine where everyone gets to see our mistakes]. This is our reputation. This is what we (over time) have showed people what we represent.
Now we all make mistakes – it’s part of being a human being and I am no saint. (This blog is my way of helping others to learn from my experiences). But the good news is that, over time – one’s good deeds overshadow the bad – it’s the pattern of behavior that defines our reputation. The first thing that you can do to create this reputation is to think of yourself as your own personal brand name.
“Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. … our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You” [from Fastcompany.com]
I have blogged before about public perception of doctors and the erosion of trust by silly things that our colleagues do. But here’s a nugget for free – you reflect on your colleagues too. We’re all constantly being judged and you have a part to play.
The above quote’s from a neat article on branding yourself. My take is as follows:
1) Brand yourself by:
- Reflection – What are you really about? Take time to think about this. Ask others.
- Recreation – You have to be true to your brand. Walk the walk and be consistent at it.
- Reaction – Things will happen that smear the brand – react to these moments. Make it right.
- Revolution – As a discipline we need to actively buck the negative ideas our colleagues have of us. Here’s a good start:
We need to collectively step up our game. Can you imagine what the brand of “Emergency Medicine” would be like if every ER doc in the world emulated what we see at EssentialsofEM? What we listen to on EMRAP? and what we read on LIFEINTHEFASTLANE and AcademicLifeinEM ?
2) Package yourself by:
- Looking professional – First impressions count. This is what adult patients and paeds parents think of our dress code. Our colleagues wear white coats – why don’t we? Yes white coats are fomites – what do you think of rolling up/tailoring the sleeves? Taking them off? Using them primarily when you’re teaching? What ever you decide to do – recognise that you’re “on show” – ill-fitting creased up and shabby cargo pants + scrub top is not ideal.
- Acting professional – I have a blog on the backburner about professionalism. Here’s the U of S Dept of Surgery’s take on professional conduct. One of the bullets on their code of conduct is being accountable for personal decisions.
- Communicating like a professional – Your communication style says a lot about your brand. If you want to be perceived as thoughtful and intelligent – you have to come across that way. Writing “rule out appy” on an ultrasound request is a little simian.
3) Market yourself by:
- Collaborating – “If you want people to talk about the wonderful things you do, then you must give them the opportunity to experience you” [G.R]. I was recently invited to help a senior anesthesiology resident give a Grand Rounds on Tranexamic acid. It was a good debate [I am not sold on CRASH2]. No less than 4 anesthesiologists have subsequently come up to me in the hospital to chat in the coffee line or in the corridor – That’s bridge building!
- Connecting – Join boards and committees. Do stuff for your regional College of Physicians. Connect with other professionals on LinkedIn. This is invaluable networking and garners respect for not only you, but also your discipline.
- Collegiating – Okay that’s not a real word, but what I mean to say is that we should engage in more collegial behavior. Ever get those “Hospital Staff Gala Dinner” invites in the mail? Ever gone to one of them? I recently participated in the new hospital design process. I got to roll up my sleeves alongside a variety of colleagues including the up and ups from hospital admin – all of us developed a new respect for each other.
- Culturing and curating – We teach all the learners in the system at one point or another. By being true to our brand and by packaging ourselves as Emergentologists – this will eventually create a cultural shift. We will finally have the recognition and respect that our discipline deserves. The challenge then will be to nurture this incredibly hard-earned respect.
1. Dress less casually at Academic Half Day. [My colleagues see me in my 9Fifty Cubbies Hat - not ideal]
2. More Collegiation! [now where's that Foundation Gala Invite? ...]