Al Sacchetti, MD, FACEP, has spent 35 years working in emergency departments, and in all that time, he doesn’t think he’s met a doctor or a nurse without a sense of humor.
Explore This IssueACEP15 Preview: Vol 34 – No 09a – September 2015
“You absolutely need that component of it,” said Dr. Sacchetti, chief of emergency services at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden, New Jersey, and assistant clinical professor of emergency medicine at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. “You really have to balance the entire spectrum of personality traits. You have to have empathy. You have to have humor. You have to have humility. You have to even be a bit of an authoritarian at times to treat some patients.” When you have these elements in your bag of tricks, he says “on any given patient, you’ve got to pull them out.”
It’s a perspective Dr. Sacchetti has honed over his career, and at ACEP15 in Boston, he will share his insights at the James D. Mills Jr. Memorial Lecture at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 27. In the session, “Lessons My Patients Have Taught Me: Humor, Humility, and Humanity Learned at the Bedside,” Dr. Sacchetti hopes to show how physicians need to tailor their approach to the patient and not just take a uniform tack with everyone.
“That’s one of the things that’s enlightening, or at least appealing, about the emergency department,” he said. “You are going to go from seeing a particularly unhappy, confrontational patient, where nothing you do is going to make them better … and then run into somebody who is absolutely thrilled that you came to take care of them.”
But most of all, Dr. Sacchetti will tell the story of an emergency physician thrilled with the career choice he made.
“It’s very clear that this is the only specialty where you can see every aspect of human life, and you can do it in a 12-hour shift,” he said. “There is no other area of medicine where you can see everything from a newborn to a centenarian … you get to see stuff that no other specialty gets to experience. And you do it pretty much on a daily basis.”