Practicing Medicine and Living in the Same Town

February 21, 2011

I see patients and patients’ families everywhere I go: the grocery store, church, school, restaurants. I quite honestly miss the anonymity. Now, I feel like I am always “on.”

My former practice was a hospital-run faculty practice, and even though I was there for over eight years, I was always in the shadow of our senior partner. And I only lived in the same town where the office was for a year or so. I felt like my partner knew everybody and everybody knew him. He had “people.” He had a “guy” for everything. And I felt as if everywhere we went together (which wasn’t often), there were people he knew.

Now, I work in the same town I live in. I don’t have “people” yet, although I was blessed to find that someone who worked for our town was a very anxious mother of a type 1 diabetic. Without her, I don’t know if the office would have opened in time when I first started. I have another who works for a snack company who always brings some of his wares for my staff and me. I jokingly ask him if that is his co-pay.

And I see patients and patients’ families everywhere I go: the grocery store, church, school, restaurants. I quite honestly miss the anonymity. Now, I feel like I am always “on.” Not that I go out looking shlubby (at least not often), but I feel that I need to pay more attention to how I appear in public. I also feel like I need to behave better in public. No more screaming crazy mother, no matter how utterly annoying my kids are. And I feel like I have to look over my shoulder every time I put a * gasp * French fry in my mouth.

And, of course, while I love saying “hi” to my patients in public, I have to contend with the “Oh, I’m so glad I saw you. I wanted to ask you something…” followed by the usual favorites “why am I so tired” and “it hurts when I do this.” I wonder if there is an E&M code for “five- minute face-to-face in school cafeteria during bingo.”