Tips for IM attendings – my favorite question – Chapter 22

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Category : Medical Rants

“What do you do for fun?”

That is my favorite question.  And I use it with patients and learners.

With patients, it opens a window to the possibility of anhedonia.  It also helps you understand who the patient is.  Just asking the question often creates a sense that we care about the person who has the disease.

In the outpatient setting you can use the answer on each visit to gauge the patient’s quality of life.  If you have someone who regularly fishes, and then one day no longer goes fishing, you probably have a clue that something serious is wrong.  If they have been fishing, the fact that you asked sends a clear message to the patient.

With learners, again it helps us understand our teammates.  While I do not have data to prove it, having an attending physician who wants to know who you are helps team dynamics.

I ask the question, and then I have another important question on the inpatient service.  After a learner has a day off, I try to ask them how their day went.  What did they do?  And I share my non-medical activities with the team.

While I love medicine, I also enjoy my exercise, golf, music, etc.  I want the learners to see me as a well rounded human being.  They need to see that to keep their goals in perspective.

So try this question.  What do you do for fun?  Do your learners know?  Do you know them?

Comments (3)

Good question. I had a doctor tell me his commitment to medicine was so great he did not engage in any activity not related to his practice.

He was also very dull and could not relate to anything other than numbers.

Folks be human, get a hobby.

Steve Lucas

Great post.

I always ask new patients about hobbies and write them (we are still using blessed paper records) on the top page in the chart where I can refer to them at subsequent visits.

For me, it’s: reading and rereading the classics, cooking, and piano.

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