A Christmas Toast to Physicians

December 9, 2017

A physician offers words of praise to his peers that spent 2017 working long hours caring for those in need.

Like clockwork, I make it a point to keep up with my state's medical board periodic newsletters.  Keeping up with the latest medical guidelines is a job within itself. And of course, nearly half of it is devoted to "administrative actions," a long list of disciplinary rulings against problematic physicians. A warning list for most, charges range from improper storage of medical records to gross negligence, for all the world to see.

With these newsletter issues, other than the occasional acknowledgement of a doctor (who in most cases is connected with the medical board in some fashion), it is difficult to find much positivity about my profession. I know it is their job to regulate physicians, not complement them, but it often takes for granted that most doctors want to do the right thing, within the rules and parameters of the occupation.

Looking for positive words about doctors in the media, was even bleaker. Performing a Google News search for the keyword "physician" brought back the following headlines:

"Physician-owned hospital in Dallas pays $7.5M to settle kickbacks"

"12 physicians disciplined by state medical boards"

"Physician accused of writing illegal prescriptions…"

"Woman Sues Physician for Talking on the Phone During Operation" (!)

Of course, every now and again, the media does portray doctors in a positive light. Surgical teams working day and night during the horrific Las Vegas shooting. Physicians saving people's lives through hurricanes and electrical generators, while fearing their own homes are washed away. Doctors from other states not batting an eye to travel in order to help those in need. That’s just what doctors do. But at times, it appears only doctors performing extraordinary feats ever get acknowledged.

What about the doctor who quietly goes to work every day without fuss or fury?

Seeing as we are deep into the holiday season, I want to take an opportunity to praise and commend the everyday doctor, who often gets taken for granted, is overlooked, and generally unrecognized.

To the doctor who stayed open late, despite waiting for that one patient who no-showed on you the three previous times, I salute you.

To the physician who fills out those disability papers that the patient dropped off this morning but needs it "NOW" because it expires tomorrow, my utmost respect.

To the hospitalist who took the phone call from the patient's out-of-state sister-in-law because "she's in the medical field," a hundred salutations your way, my friend.

To the medical professional who has faith the EMR update will actually save this time and won't crash again like it did for the umpteenth time, kudos to you.

To the struggling practice owner who despite assurances that the insurance checks are "coming soon," sacrifices their own salary to keep the clinic open for the good of the patients and the employees, your struggle is recognized and appreciated.

To all my everyday physician colleagues, keep fighting the good fight, don't give up hope, and continue persevering. Your service is valued and applauded. Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year.