My Favorite Mistake — 261: Learning from Mistakes in Medicine: Insights from Dr. Andrew Wilner’s Career

My guest for Episode #261 of the My Favorite Mistake podcast is Dr. Andrew Wilner, a board-certified internist, neurologist, and epilepsy specialist. In 1982, he discovered that locum tenens was the perfect solution for achieving work/life balance as a physician and writer. Dr. Wilner has practiced locum tenens in a variety of inpatient, outpatient, academic, and community settings. 

He is a prolific medical journalist and author of several books, including Bullets and Brains. Currently, Dr. Wilner is an Associate Professor of Neurology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN, where he cares for patients, teaches, writes, and lives with his wife and baby boy. He’s also host of the podcast “The Art of Medicine.” His latest book is The Locum Life: A Physician’s Guide to Locum Tenens.

In this episode, we discuss the concept of “locum tenens”, a staffing solution that is steadily taking root in the world of healthcare. Locum tenens, which means “holding a place,” provides medical professionals the flexibility of temporary placements in clinics or hospitals due to extended leaves or transitions between hires. Our guest for this episode, Dr. Andrew Wilner, a seasoned neurologist and epilepsy specialist, has thrived using the locum tenens approach. He gives insightful revelations about the career growth and personal satisfaction that come with adopting this method of staffing.

In addition, Dr. Wilner gives an account of the human errors that can occur in healthcare settings. Using a personal tale about a mistake made during his training years, he emphasizes the necessity for checks and balances to prevent such occurrences. The discussion encourages healthcare professionals and administrations to approach healthcare provision not as invincible entities, but as humans who are prone to making mistakes. It is through such humility and acknowledgment of weaknesses that better healthcare systems can be fostered where errors are minimized and learning is continuous.

Questions and Topics:

  • How could that medication error happen? Sleep deprived
  • Did the nurse challenge the order?
  • More of an expectation to speak up now?
  • A team effort to help you and help the patient?
  • EHR risk of errors – wrong chart? New risks
  • Human factors — 36 or even 24 hour shifts now?
  • Tell us about your Podcast: “The Art of Medicine”
  • The Locum Life: A Physician’s Guide to Locum Tenens
  • Your experiences with writing and self publishing?