Editor’s Note: Physician Practice’s blog features contributions from members of the medical community. These blogs are an opportunity for professionals to engage with readers about a topic that is top of mind, whether it is practice management, experiences with patients, the industry, medicine in general, or healthcare reform. The opinions are that of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Physicians Practice or UBM.
Tacked to the bulletin board above my desk, among a thousand sticky notes, are two cards. They are reminders of why I still practice medicine despite all the whining, complaining, ranting, and raving that I do.
One is from the mother of a patient who I started seeing a few years ago. He had recently been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and his mom was very concerned about him. (I wish he were more concerned about his diabetes, but that’s another story.) She called and made the appointment for him. She came to his initial visit. She was so thankful and appreciative. That Christmas, she dropped off a box of chocolate for the staff and a little gift for me, a silver jewelry bowl shaped like a shoe. It was a very sweet gesture. I tacked the card that came with it to my board. She continues to send flowers or gifts every Christmas.
The other is a card from a patient who moved out of state. She had been my patient for years. Even after she moved three hours away, she continued to come for a while. But the drive got to be too much for her. Her card reads, “Thank you for the wonderful care and support that you’ve given me these past 8 years. I also want you to know that we plan to retire at the Jersey Shore and so I will be back in 5-7 years (if you’ll have me).”
Often times, when we get so caught up in the minutiae of the business of medicine that it makes us wonder why we bother. I don’t know how many times I have said in frustration, “This isn’t what I signed up for.” The paperwork, the prior authorizations, meaningful use, Merit-based Incentive Payment System, and so forth. That’s not medicine. Helping people manage a chronic disease, holding their hand, listening to their struggles, finding a way to deal with something that will never go away, and making the disease a little easier and hopefully less burdensome. That’s medicine. That’s what I signed up for. Those two little cards help remind me why I do what I do.
Melissa Young, MD, FACE, FACP, is sole owner and one of two physicians at Mid Atlantic Diabetes and Endocrinology Associates, LLC. As such, she is both actively involved in patient care and practice management while also raising two kids and a dog in suburban New Jersey.