How to be an Authentic Doctor #23: Keep Learning


In my experience, when young doctors first start seeing patients they do a good job of keeping up with the medical literature.  At least I did and I never considered myself overly zealous.  I wanted to recheck everything I was doing just to make sure (since there was no one overseeing me anymore).  I think I was good about this for a while and then there were some natural lapses.  This occurred when life was crazy or when the schedule was overcrowded or when I was burning out.  It also occurs when you get so seasoned that sometimes you don’t know that you don’t even know.  You ignore the little things and gloss over some things (minor abnormalities in the labs, etc.).  My recommendation is to get your house in order so that you find your passion for medicine again.  Then you will start caring enough to retain what you read or see in a lecture versus going through the mandated motions than many of us do now.  When life and the clinic slow down then you really care enough to spend the time researching all the little things you would normally blow off.  You may want to know the pathophysiology of the dying beta cells in a diabetic.  You may want to know the best way to treat an achilles tendinosis (which is not tendonitis).  I know this sounds easier then it is to do but there are ways to find your passion again and keep learning.   If you aren’t learning and growing then you are probably going in the opposite direction which will make you a mediocre doctor.   You don’t want to be that because authentic doctors are not mediocre.

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  5 comments for “How to be an Authentic Doctor #23: Keep Learning

  1. July 16, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Keep up the good work.
    It’s a good indicator of burnout when we lose our curiosity. Remember the undergrad conversations about science and medicine? I wish I could regain that curiosity and enthusiasm and lose some of my passion for politics.

  2. Kurt
    July 16, 2014 at 10:10 am

    Yeah right. In between keeping up with the uncompensateable paperwork, who the hell has the time?
    I have to leave the area to go to meetings to soak up any new information. I am very incredulous with some of the bull crap research that’s passed off as gospel these days. Plus, no patient is under any obligation to follow what we tell them. Look at the obesity epidemic.
    As an example, I eat right, keep my weight down but don’t have time to exercise. Plus I sure as heck am not getting rich. Stay away from FP/primary care. It was good for 22 years but is heading towards persona non grata now.

    • Doug Farrago
      July 16, 2014 at 10:15 am

      I have always agreed with you but I believe there is hope. We have one chance. One. DPC.

    • Bridget Reidy MD
      July 29, 2014 at 7:04 pm

      It’s not always so much about keeping up to date as being sure what you think you know is true. One of the comments on this page seems to imply the doctor thinks obesity is more dangerous than a sedentary lifestyle, which was never what the science was saying.

  3. Josh
    July 16, 2014 at 7:20 am

    So true. I’m reading/listening to a great book, Mindset by Carol Dweck and she talks about a fixed or a growth mindset. Encourages you to embrace challenges and opportunities to expose what you don’t know so that you can learn. Fascinating.

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