Teach Yourself How to Develop the Expert Timing of a Master Clinician
Learn the Essential Soft Skills In Emergency Medicine
If you want to get really good at what you do, you have to look beyond the textbook knowledge and skills defined as essential by your speciality, and search out the the soft skills and hidden abilities that define the experts in our midst. The secret sauce of success in emergency medicine has many ingredients not written in any recipe book, but they’re critical to developing a successsful strategy for patient care in the busy, often chaotic environment we inhabit.
One of those skills is expert timing. In much the same way that athletes must develop their sense of timing to connect with a tennis or baseball, or the ability to anticipate where the hockey puck will be a tenth of a second from now, expert timing is critical to our success.
In fact, the quality of almost all of the clinical decisions we make is closely linked with their timing, and in many instances the better the timing the better the outcome.
We see the need for expert timing all around us on shift; it’s embedded in many of the familiar discussions we have with ourselves around the ABC’s of resuscitation, in the proper steps of every procedure, in how we troubleshoot a ventilator or talk with a patient and their family. And yet, somewhat remarkably, there’s no formal training on how to develop it, test it, or even track it in our training programs.
Beyond clinical excellence and good patient care, expert timing is also a wellness issue. Timing brings order out of chaos. Expert timing is an ability that can help us master the complex dance of a resuscitation, or survive the grind of a 12 hour overnight shift. It can be difference between being in the weeds, where physical and emotional health suffers, and job satisfaction.
One day, a course on expert timing in medicine will be part of every clinical curriculum. Until then, the good news is you can teach it to yourself. Here are some of the things you can do right now to build awareness and develop your sense of expert timing on every shift.