New skills and considered opinions: My resolutions for 2019

Edwin Kruys

7/01/2019 1:50:45 PM

With 2018 in the books, Dr Edwin Kruys discusses his general practice resolutions for the new year.

Dr Edwin Kruys has resolved to learn a new skill and count to 10 before giving his opinion in 2019.
Dr Edwin Kruys has resolved to learn a new skill and count to 10 before giving his opinion in 2019.

I have two resolutions for 2019.
The first is the same as last year:
Learn a new skill
In 2019, that will be mental health. I will start a new part-time role in the mental health unit of a small rural hospital.
I am keen to learn more about the assessment and management of patients with mental health conditions, and I would especially like to become more comfortable with prescribing and administering antipsychotic medications, as well as helping patients manage the metabolic effects of these drugs.
This position has been made available through the Queensland Health General Practitioners with Special Interests (GPwSI) program. Under this pilot program, GPs run their own clinics in various outpatient settings, usually in close collaboration with consultants. In my case, it will be a psychiatrist.
I believe this presents a great opportunity for GPs to upskill and take valuable knowledge and skills back to the community. I am looking forward to the new job and hope it will work out as planned.
My second resolution is a different kind of challenge:
Count to 10 before giving my opinion
As doctors we are trained to give opinions. It’s what we do every day in caring for our patients and leading our teams.
Sometimes, however, it’s better to not give an opinion, or at least sit on it for a while. This is admittedly not easy, especially in environments such as our opinion-based social media platforms.
‘The history of human opinion is scarcely anything more than the history of human errors,’ Voltaire said a long time ago.
Much more recently, the Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman added to that when he described two ways of thinking in his well-known book, Thinking, Fast and Slow.
The first method– system one – is fast, intuitive, runs automatically and cannot be switched off. It generates first impressions and intuitions based on experience. However, it is subject to errors and biases and is poor at performing statistical estimates.
The second way of thinking – system two – takes more conscious effort and time. It is normally in low-effort mode, but when system one runs into difficulty, system two will be engaged.
The two systems can work together effectively, as long as we are aware that our first guess, based on system-one thinking, may not always be correct and that we need to verify it by applying more analytical system-two thinking.
The challenge, as I see it, is to have an opinion and an open mind at the same time.
So, in 2019, regardless of whether we are talking about, for example, complementary medicine, allied health professionals’ increasing scope of practice or conscientious vaccination objectors, I am going to try to give fewer opinions and ask more questions.
Happy New Year, everyone.
P.S. What’s on your list for 2019?

general practice New year’s resolutions

newsGP weekly poll Do you support disease-specific MBS item numbers?

newsGP weekly poll Do you support disease-specific MBS item numbers?

Login to comment

Dr Ruth Helen Gawler   8/01/2019 9:22:24 AM

Great little piece on "opinions" !

Dr Lisa Meriah Fraser   8/01/2019 10:28:19 PM

great, aligns well with my 'deep listening' goal.