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AMWA Mentorship Corner Q&A

What advice do you have for letting go of tough cases and bad outcomes? This is definitely an area I’m struggling the most with as an intern.
— anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

The only cases that haunt us are the ones we didn’t talk about, so my most important piece of advice is to debrief. As a medical student on a Maternal Fetal Medicine rotation, I had a sad case of a very preterm delivery after an extended hospitalization. Additionally, the family was quite unhappy with the situation and the care they initially received. The natural response after these scenarios is often to discuss how it’s disappointing but to quickly move on to other work. However, the residents involved took the time to sit down and discuss what can be learned from the situation. This made a huge difference both intellectually and emotionally—and it only took 5 minutes! Even when things feel like they happen for no reason, they should not happen in vain. Medicine is a field with constant learning opportunities. My advice for the debrief: make it a habit, sit down (standing implies a rushed sensation), and try to learn something.

Best of luck,
Anna Zelivianskaia

Calling all residents and students! The AMWA Mentorship Committee wants to answer all your questions regarding mentorship and life in medicine. You can now submit questions anonymously to be answered by attendings and current residents on any topic–work life balance, residency hours, applications, etc. Please email them to Anna Zelivianskaia at and answers will be published monthly in the AMWA Newsflash!

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