There are many experiences I’ve had throughout my life, and throughout my medical training, that have helped make me the doctor and person that I am today. I’ve tried to learn from the good and bad experiences, and from the smart and poor life choices I’ve made along the way. I’d like to share the single most impactful advice that I’ve ever received as a physician. It is a story that I’ve retold many times with residents that I’ve trained, and is something that profoundly changed the way I think of what it means to be a doctor.

One night during my 2nd year of Family Medicine residency training, I was on “Night Float” covering labor & delivery, and a baby was born prematurely via an emergency cesarean section after showing signs of severe distress. Despite our best efforts, tragically the baby died several days after delivery. There were a series of internal reviews that followed, looking at how things were handled — how closely and appropriately was the fetal monitoring, how quickly was the code called and how was it communicated and run, who showed up and when, and how well the Attending was supervising and monitoring both the patient and myself. When this process finished, it was determined that overall the care was appropriate, and my actions had met the standard of care expected. In other words, I hadn’t made any serious errors. …


Nicholas Sasson, MD

Dr. Nicholas Sasson is a family practice physician from Monterey, CA who is the current Medical Director at an outpatient clinic for the VA.

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