Three commitments before residency

In a little under six weeks I’ll begin my residency at Queen’s University in Psychiatry. I’d like to take a moment now to mention some of the commitments I am making to myself for the sake of my future self, my colleagues, staff, and patients.

  1. Cultivate respect and kindness for colleagues and patients. There’s a certain expectation of workplace respect and friendliness – basic human decency perhaps – that I think is both taught explicitly (under the umbrella of professionalism and advocacy), as well as implicitly as politeness and conformity. I’m trying to get at something more. Too often I see colleagues subtly dismissing each other (e.g. with eye-rolling) when they don’t agree with or like the decisions another person has made, or being unempathetic to patients (e.g. “she’s just behavioural”). I don’t want to be a part of that or encourage it. I will strive to be charitable in all my encounters with patients and colleagues. I will incline myself towards presuming the best of them, and that they are earnestly trying to do right by others, to whatever level they are capable of. I’d also like to continue to learn about what makes for safe, just, fair culture and how I can help enact it.
  2. Use my privilege wisely. I will have a lot more to say about this. I commit to being mindful of the ways in which I can use the privilege I have in medicine, in my gender and race, in my social strata and others to address oppression. In the small, this might mean simply listening to others, continuing to seek out training, being thoughtful about the groups and committees I attend and which activities I put my energy behind.
  3. Never accept any money or compensation from pharmaceutical companies. I will not knowingly attend any pharma events such as “lunch and learns”, talks or dinners, and I will never accept any funding for research or any other projects. Medicine is rife with these sorts of things, and I worry that much of the corporate influence in medicine is subtle and pervasive (see Psychiatry Under the Influence, for example.)