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“Despite all the trials and tribulations of practicing in the present healthcare delivery environment, I still feel my life is validated by being a physician.”
[Editor’s Note: One of Physicians Practice’s questions for the Great American Physician survey asks physicians to rate how they feel about the practice of medicine. We invited survey participants to explain their answers in a personal essay.]
I decided I wanted to be an obstetrician and gynecologist (OB-GYN) when I was around 5 years old. My father often recalled the day I made the announcement, “I am going to be a doctor, and I am going to be a doctor specially for women.”
It was around that time that my mother was taken ill. No one could figure out what was wrong with her except that it was a quote unquote woman's problem. She was eventually diagnosed and successfully treated over a period of time. During her treatment, my determination to become a women's health specialist became firmer and clearer each day. I never changed my mind about this throughout my years of growing up, and my parents supported me completely throughout.
I am fairly happy with my selection of specialty after being an OB-GYN for more than 40 years and having practiced in the United States, United Kingdom, and India. My satisfaction has decreased within the last few years because of the increasing administrative regulatory burden, having to perform mindless tasks such as checking a box while documenting my notes, and so many repetitive tasks that take time and effort but do nothing to improve my patients’ care. This is the lament of almost every physician regardless of specialty, many of whom are electing to retire rather than endure these burdens.
However, I still find extreme happiness at the end of each day when I have provided care to scores of women who come to me and say, “Doctor, I feel completely well now after following your treatment or advice. I am so happy that you are my doctor.”
I feel humbled and grateful when the girls I delivered with my own hands are returning to me as young women to seek care. They say I am their mother and now possibly grandmother when they bring in their own adolescent daughters for a checkup, the age when I first started caring for them. They also bring their sisters, friends, mothers, or other relatives to be seen, and it is an honor to know they not only trust me with their lives but the lives of their loved ones.
When someone asks me if I would still want to be a doctor if I had a choice for a do-over, my answer is a firm yes. My answer would also be yes if asked whether I would select the same specialty. Despite all the trials and tribulations of practicing in the present healthcare delivery environment, I still feel my life is validated by being a physician.
Raksha Joshi, FACOG, FRCOG, FAAPL, CPE, MBA, MS, is an OB-GYN who practices in Long Branch, N.J.