Thursday, February 14, 2008

Letter #23

Dear Future Physician,

First, Congratulations, and second, Thank You for choosing one of the
most difficult, yet rewarding career paths there is to offer. I
imagine doctoring to be as much a way of life as it is a career. You
live, sleep, eat and breathe medicine, everything else, to include
your own family becomes secondary to those you treat. That is
certainly a difficult balance.

In that balance I hope you always remember that in the hundreds, even
thousands of patients with the myriad of problems we have, that while
your colleagues and peers lump is in to categories and cases, and put
us in a rank and file order of difficulty and importance...we are
people. Individuals with individual problems. We don't all feel pain
the same way, we don't all explain the pain we have in the same

Listen. Sometimes when you don't feel well, just having somebody
believe that you don't feel well is the best medicine. And then, on
your most harried day when you've seen a hundred patients and you are
an hour behind schedule and you've finally made your way to the last
patient of the day, treat them like they are your first. They may
have a serious problem. The problem that is going to change their
life forever. And if they can sense or feel like they've been rushed,
or ignored, or not listened to, when they do get that diagnosis, what
will they remember? Who and how will it be remembered? Remember that
even if you are not the doctor who makes that final diagnosis, people
think back to when they first noticed the problem. Where do you want
to fit in?

I remember to the very second the moment my son was diagnosed with
kidney disease. The doctor was patient and kind and we'd been in the
Emergency Room all day long. I also remember to the very second,
three months later when a different doctor in that same Emergency Room
kicked us out saying we needed to call and make a regular daily
appointment, only later that same day being transported by ambulance
from that Emergency Room to a bigger hospital two hours away with my
son needing Pediatric Intensive Care. He was only two. The doctor
who had sent us away...couldn't look me in the eye. The doctor who
was kind when diagnosing my son I have the utmost respect for. The
"other guy", well, take a guess.

Be that doctor who cares. Be that doctor people remember so
positively and rave to their friends about. It's good networking!
And laughter is always the best in medicine.

Best of luck to you in all your endeavors,
Brenda H

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