Continuing from the Part 1 (Aug 2, 2011 post), here is the rest of my conversation with Dr. Jim Adams:

What cool things are you working on right now?

The big projects that I am working on include:

  • The second edition of the textbook for which I serve as Executive Editor. It will be published in 2012.
  • I am President of the Association of Academic Chairs of Emergency Medicine. There is so much happening nationally in emergency medicine and in healthcare in general. Health policy experts often rightfully criticize the US healthcare system for spending the most money without being the best in the world. The US is ranked somewhere around 32nd best. But there is consensus that the emergency care system in the US is indeed the best in the world. There is great training, skilled EM specialists, strong networks, and it is all fully accessible to anyone. We need to take pride in this as a specialty. We also need to be sure that it does not get broken. Nobody intends to, but there certainly can be unintended consequences given the rapid pace of change.

 What advice do you have for junior faculty?

  • My advice is to learn the good messages that were delivered to me by mentors and colleagues.
  • We all appreciate that this is serious business, so there is no easy way to learn it. We just have to work hard and become good.
  • We need to stay humble, because none of us are as good as we need to be or as good as we can be. We need to stay rested because the work is relentless.
  • We need to make sure that we take care of ourselves. Working in an emergency department is a really hard job. We underestimate how tough it really is.
  • And most importantly, if we put it all together, we do a super job for the patients.

What advice do you have for EM residents?

I tell all the residents that we selected them, because we know they are smart and now their job is to become comfortable being stupid. They need to be able to admit when they do not know, they need to become comfortable admitting their weakness because that is harder for them than being tough. Such healthy admission prevents arrogance, allows us to ask questions, permits us to continually learn. With that attitude, we and the patients are better, safer, happier. We are, paradoxically, can then be more confident.

Final thoughts

What a really amazing time this is, with excellent colleagues in EM and in every other specialty. I am so pleased that emergency medicine, and other fields, are attracting such great people. It is up to us to keep the profession great so the talent keeps coming.

Thanks for sharing these eloquent words of wisdom, Jim. Words to live by. 

Michelle Lin, MD
ALiEM Founder and CEO
Professor and Digital Innovation Lab Director
Department of Emergency Medicine
University of California, San Francisco
Michelle Lin, MD


Professor of Emerg Med at UCSF-Zuckerberg SF General. ALiEM Founder @aliemteam #PostitPearls at Bio:
Michelle Lin, MD