Bamboo Toothbrushes & Mentorship: Just Moments of Happiness Yesterday – Dr. Plastic Picker

Bamboo Toothbrushes & Mentorship: Just Moments of Happiness Yesterday

| Posted in Office Politics/Leadership Development

Bamboo toothbrush a colleague gave me. It was so lovely. I am enjoying brushing my teeth at night.

I recently had a 25 day blogging streak. I wasn’t sure if I would just edit the site versus write another blog, but I found a recent gift from my friend Dr. Jill Gustafson inspiring so I decided to continue my streak. I’ve had many happy moments that I was thinking of sharing as a blog post. But the beauty of yesterday was almost too much so I will give you just glimpses of our day yesterday.


Our favorite continuity clinic resident Andrew precepted by one of the other pediatricians finished his last outpatient clinic. He is graduating and will be driving this weekend to the University of Michigan to start pediatric cardiology fellowship. He is such a smart and kind young man, and I am hoping we can recruit him in three years to be our second pediatric cardiologist when our senior cardiologist retires. The timing should work out. The clinic threw him a nice luncheon and he had his final day. This relationship, between my collegue Dr. AF and Andrew was founded on respect and mutual bonds of friendship. It was so lovely to watch glimpses of it the last three years. All I did was be nice to Andrew during the three years.  I said hello everytime I would stop by to talk to his preceptor Dr. AF. I contributed to the cost of his farewell party. I had him phone interview with our Chief Boss already so that in case we need to recruit him officially later. We made sure to include him in some of our clinic events. As Dr. AF and Andrew were having their final official moments as resident and preceptor together, I did get to tell Andrew earnestly, “Good luck. If you every need anything, advice or just to talk – please call us. We are always here.” Thank you Dr. AF for allowing me to see glimpses of your beautiful mentoring relationship.

With Andrew graduating, I was reminded that my younger colleagues in clinic also graduated from the same program and now have been working in our clinic now 6-7 years! That is amazing. When you more senior to someone, you always think the other person just came. But they have actually been there a long time. They both have had multiple opportunities to move to “easier” offices but have elected to stay. Wow, has it really been 6-7 years? I feel like we were just recruiting them when they were residents. They were very much like Andrew. They rotated through as third-year residents and we liked them so much, that we actively tried to find them jobs. Both have grown the mentorship program at our clinic, as we will be hosting the UCSD PRIME HEq 3rd year medical students soon. This is a special track for students that want to work in underserved areas. Dr. MM will be an official preceptor for that program along with another young physician coming onboard on the Family Medicine side. Dr. AF has taken over the UCSD General Pediatrics 3rd year clerkship and will be mentoring at the medical school more. I am proud of the two of them for the work they are doing. I am reminded this morning about a time about 5 years ago, where they both helped stablize a 35 week baby born emergently in the outpatient clinic that became hypoglycemic and hypothermic.

I talk to everyone and have my fingers in the entire department. I manage our 30 pediatric per diem doctors, and I know that the younger doctors that I have mentored have quietly begun doing the same for our younger per diem doctors. It’s nothing they announced to me. But I know. I hear. And I see. Someone quietly sent an email to our Chief Boss to let her know her positive sentiments about a certain young doctor that we are auditioning for a job. And that young doctor thanked me, and I texted her back that I had nothing to do with it. But that Dr. MM must have thought highly of her and that was due to her own hardwork. But in my heart, I was so happy to see the continuation of that line of mentorship.

And this is how strong departments and strong organizations are built. A strong department is formed at it’s foundation by the individuals that are doing the actual work of the department: the nurses, the pediatricians, and the back office support staff. The leadership (the Chief Bosses, Assistant Bosses, Office MD Bosses, Nursing Bosses) are important, but only in the sense of guiding the department and ensuring that the foundation of the department stays strong.

When I was a Chief Resident at Man’s Greatest Hospital, I was awarded the Teaching Award. It had been a tumultuous chief residency year for various reasons but mostly because our Chief of Service went to the evil side of Big Pharma and left abruptly. There was a political pediatric guerilla war waged for Department Chief among the faculty. The Chief Residents were left to actually run the resdiency and watch the adults fight over a position.

Anyway I received the Teaching Award that year, as I was focused on making sure the senior resident all passed their board exams. Which they did with a 100% pass rate. I was focused on cramming every bit of knowledge I could into the intern, junior and senior class and making sure their call schedules were as fair as they could be. It’s funny now that my job as Assistant Boss is an adult version of Chief Residency. I thought I had hated that year, but it prepared me for the last four years. And I helped establish a Mentorship Award in our department that hardwires and rewards mentorship of early career physicians. I need to add into the document that Assistant Bosses and Chief Bosses are not allowed to win it. The entire reason for this award is to change the culture of the department to one of growth and mentorship, and away from that of bullying/misogynism/racism that is pervasive in all part of medicine

And it was beautiful day yesterday. Two young physicians that I have mentored are well on their way to beautiful and unique careers suited to their strengths. They have in turn now mentored younger physicians, and hopefully both of those young physicians will join our department at some point. And a physician that I sought advice to about my own children when I was just starting out trying to juggle the crazy life of doctor and mother, gifted me bamboo toothbrushes months ago. She knows that I am Dr. Plastic Picker.  But just last night I took them out and really looked at them. They are beautiful and I felt so beautiful brushing my teeth last night.

So it was just a lovely day yesterday.  And Dr. AF came by my office yesterday morning and said, “Did you see the email? You are famous.” And I said excitely, “What email?” And Assistant Boss and Dr. Plastic Picker’s side project of becoming the Regional Anti-Vaping Trash Artists in Residence was achieved. My piece Ocean Plastic Beach Baby made it onto the regional website and newsletter. Dr. AF asked, “Have you been getting a million emails already regarding Ocean Plastic Beach Baby?” And I laughed and I told him I hadn’t. And as of this morning, no congratulatory emails on my trash art. But I realize now that I got to run around the office showing everyone Ocean Plastic Beach Baby and postulating my coming trash artist fame. But I think only Dr. AF, Dr. MM and Dr. Dear Friend noticed. But we laughed and had fun over her. And in the end as long as my friends see that is all that matters. And I see them, all three of them, is their kindness as they all help form the next generation of pediatricians.

If any of you read this post, I really appreciate you. Just like I told Andrew, “I’m here. I’m not going anywhere.” Because who else would laugh with me regarding Ocean Plastic Beach Baby!!! 

Dr. Plastic Picker’s is the regional Anti-Vaping Trash Artists!

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