When Doctors Yell… Here are four steps to deal with it.

On my first day in the OR during an internship in NY a physician’s assistant briefed me: “You know, the surgeon we are  going to spend the next 6-7 hours with yells. A lot.

Keep in mind he is not yelling at you. He is just yelling…“ As it turned out he was right and the advice he gave me was valuable.

Over the years I discovered that he wasn’t the only one. I don’t know whether it’s the stress, or whether people with personality disorders study medicine more than anything else.

The good news is, we cannot not only learn to deal with these situation but actually can profit from them!

Here are four steps to deal with “yellers”
  1. Don’t take it personal.

    Remember: He is not yelling at you, he is just yelling. There are many reasons for that, and likely you are not one of them.

    He problably is discontent with himself, his career, his family, his favorite sports team or whatever, and it really doesn’t have to do anything with you.
    Obviously he is a typical yeller, which makes him a bad leader, so don’t overestimate his criticism.

  2. Analyze whatever he is mad about.

    Was the reason for his anger valid? Even if the way he expresses his criticism is not correct, he might actually have a point.Try to understand the objective, not only to avoid it the next time but also to improve your skills.

    If you made a mistake, that’s OK. You are here to learn and mistakes are a great way to learn. It is his job to drive your attention to a fault you made (even if the communications skills he uses are very poor)

  3. Observe the consequences of this kind of behaviour:

    Is the outcome of the procedure impacted in any way by this aggressive attitude?
    Are the nurses around him motivated to work at their highest level?
    Is there a good cooperation with the anesthesiologist and other coworkers?More than likely the answer to most questions above are: No. His actions will create a toxic atmosphere, that makes productive work difficult.

    Not only do his colleagues dislike him personally but will prefer to work with somebody else.

  4. Make a plan…

    …how you will act when you are in his position.

    You can always learn from bad leadership, probably more, than you can learn from good leadership, so ask yourself these questions:

    When you will be in his position in a couple of years, how will you behave?

    Do you want to become that guy, who may have great surgical skills but is disliked by his colleague and feared by the nurses?

    What are better ways to address mistakes? (which in itself is very important!)

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