Cleveland Clinic physician tells team to ditch the word 'just'

In response to a woman calling herself "just a float," a Cleveland Clinic physician sent an email to his team encouraging them to dump the word "just" as a precursor to their job title.

Tom Abelson, MD, medical director of the Cleveland Clinic Beachwood Family Health & Surgery Center, shared his message with Advisory Board's Daily Briefing. According to the report, Dr. Abelson asked the woman to rephrase her introduction, instead saying with pride, "I am a float, and my name is …"

"I have heard myself say, 'I am just a general otolaryngologist,'" Dr. Abelson wrote in the email published by Advisory Board. "I have heard others say, 'I am just a receptionist.' So let's lose the word 'just' at the Beachwood FHC. We can describe ourselves without the word 'just' without losing the humility that we hopefully all feel as well."

He encouraged his team to "gently correct" colleagues who use "just" in this fashion and for individuals to "have pride" in their work.

Advisory Board analyst Laura Martin said the message addresses a key issue in physician burnout. "Time and again we heard from burned out physicians who felt like 'just a cog in the wheel.' Ensuring the entire care team feels recognized and valued is critical as we increasingly rely on their full, top-of-license support," she said.

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