Affirmation and Tears

This is another “personal” post. It has nothing to do with firearms, but I wanted to share it anyway…

I received a wonderful reminder and affirmation today of “why” I wanted to be a doctor. 

I really, really needed it. Because lately I’ve begun to wonder and forget. 

Too often in medicine we get bogged down in paperwork, and EMR, and in meeting “quality measures” and “meaningful use”, and otherwise having to justify everything we do – to bureaucrats who don’t understand anything about it, and who are rarely satisfied.

It seems like some days there is a never-ending stream of negatives and complaints. Physicians are “rated” like restaurants – despite part of the job necessitating being the bearer of bad news, and telling people things they don’t want to hear – in the interests of their own, or their child’s health.

Doctors are people too. We are not vending machines, into which you insert your insurance card and we then spit out meds and a school or work excuse. We get worn down from trying to practice good medicine, while being judged like contestants in a beauty contest.

Sometimes we wonder if we’re doing any good at all in an uphill battle. We lose sight of the good outcomes – because it is our “job” to make people better. We sometimes only remember the things we were helpless to fix or prevent. 

But then there was today – when a family kindly and graciously reminded me of an event that happened several years ago. I was so overwhelmed by the gesture, and their kindness, that I literally sobbed. I’m still tearing-up as I write this. 

Only this morning I had had a flash of wondering if I was truly doing any good in the world. I know I’m not alone in this. Many docs – especially in primary care – burn out long before their careers are over. 

This gesture of kindness and thanks – for something which was far enough in the past that it had dropped off my radar – gave me back a glimmer of the idealism with which I had started down this road. It also reminded me too, that there are real, and appreciative people and families behind all of the paperwork and stress – it’s just sometimes hard to see the forest for the trees.

So, I’m going to ask you today to try to remember that your doc is a human being. A word of appreciation or encouragement once in awhile can go a long way. 

Who knows – you might just refill their running-on-empty tank, and make them cry – because you let them know that they really are doing  a little good in the world after all. 🙂