Giving Thanks Through Caring

December 6, 2013
Stephen H. Hanson, PA-C

The holiday season often brings reflections on life and career. This provider is thankful for having the opportunity to serve.

It seems like everywhere that you look this time of year; there is the obligatory "thankful" speech or blog. I understand the reason that we do it, as do most people. The end of one year and the beginning of the next, forces a kind of reflection on everyone to take stock of where they have been, so that they can apply that experience and knowledge, hopefully, to change for the better in the future.

I long at times for the naiveté of youth. I can remember what it was like to be carefree and unburdened by the weight of time and responsibility. As we age (I'm at the tail end of my 50s), the burdens of career, family, and responsibility can seem overwhelming and cause more than a little angst now and again. Experience and time can be both a good and bad thing.

I spend more time with my healthcare colleagues than I do with my family, which I suspect is true for the vast majority of us. I have witnessed first hand the toll that commitment and responsibility of caring for others takes on healthcare providers. It is simultaneously an honor, duty, burden, and awesome responsibility to be placed into a position of trust as a person's healthcare provider. Medicine is not for the faint of heart, it is not a 9-to-5 job. It is a calling.

As I sat around my Thanksgiving table, with four generations of my family, it became clear that I had much for which to be thankful this and every year. Each of us is an important component of our society and community, in support of each other, and needing each other's support to survive, grow, and prosper as an extended family.

More than 30 years ago, I made decisions about that have affected my entire life in a profoundly positive way. I'm thankful that I pursued my future as a paramedic, and ultimately as a physician assistant, and entered the practice of medicine with all the great teams on which I have had the pleasure and privilege of practicing. As I look back on this road traveled, it has been hard, and there have been setbacks, but it has given me a good, fulfilling, and meaningful life.

I have in the past, had the privilege and honor of speaking to a lot of medical groups, and I have enjoyed these encounters. The best experiences for me have always been the interactions with PA students. I get the opportunity to speak from experience, and relate my past experience to the future of the profession.

I always tell students the same thing. I donned my first white coat over three decades ago. After more than thirty years, I still love my profession and career with a passion. The PA profession has given me everything that is good in life. I have the opportunity to serve my community and fellow human beings. I get to work alongside some of the best and the brightest in medicine, in a highly stimulating, challenging, and ever-changing environment. I have the ability to make a good living and support my family. And most importantly I have been given the ability to daily repay the debt that has accrued from the good fortune that I have to be a PA.

Call it karma, or whatever, I have always believed that what goes around, comes around. Each of us must step back to take stock in our personal situations and see the good and the bad in our lives and experiences. It is different for me and for everyone.

For me, individually, I'm grateful and thankful for my good fortune, and I wish all of my colleagues all the best in this time of Thanksgiving and during this holiday season. I look forward to what the future holds for all of us, and remain cautiously optimistic that during this time of change and evolution, we will all contribute significantly to the health and well-being of our communities.