It is too easy in medicine to overlook the simple things. Or what you think is not that big of a deal. With the never ending media around you at all times, it is hard to escape people talking about how doctors are greedy, people committing fraud, new rules and regulations, potential cuts of 29.4% from Medicare. It is easy to forget why one might have gone into medicine. And not the joke reason I told people the summer before medical school started as to why I was going to medical school either. I didn’t really go to medical school so that I could marry a doctor. I was just really annoyed by what seemed a ridiculous question at the time. (though that proved to be a self-fulfilling prophesy as well)
But really is it a ridiculous question? It is not about the money, and those that tell you it is, well there are easier ways to make a lot of money or to make a comfortable living, and I would not have gone over $150,000 in debt to do. Most of us go into medicine at least on some level with the desire to help people. Sure there are those that might have gone into it for the prestige or some other less noble reason, but for most at the core, it was probably the desire to help people. However, for those of you applying to medical school, everyone says some variation of that answer, so you might wish to find a more eloquent way to do so.
However, in the hustle and bustle of a medical practice it is easy to forget why. Even though that very reason is sitting in front of you wanting some reassurance, wanting answers, wanting, well some not knowing what they want, only that something is not quite right. And sometimes all they want is the what or a name for whatever is ailing them. And sometimes they want more than you can give them, answers you don’t know, or if you find them for them you have to send them to a specialist. And sometimes they come back from that specialist with a smile and a thank you, and sometimes with tears.
As a family practice doctor, I get to tell all kinds of news from pregnancy (which is hard to decide whether it is good or bad the day you are telling them) to cancer (which I really hate) to maybe they are being overmedicated and some of their side effects are due to medication that they are on. So why don’t we stop some medications, those are one of my favorites. But I get to share with them in everything. They still come back to me after they are told they need back surgery for my opinion. Sometimes I wonder why (on really bad days) but mostly it is flattering. Or sometimes, I find them a second opinion from another specialist especially on a major procedure.
I get to be silly with kids who are frightened because they don’t want a shot, and get to see the relief in a parent’s eyes when their sick kid starts feeling better. My day is filled with highs and lows, and my attention is constantly stimulated, which really helps my ADD more than any medication could. And most of the time I am just an ear, especially with my older patients. There are visits, I have no idea why I saw the patient when I leave the room, other than maybe they are lonely, and that is ok too.
Medicine is a calling where people let you into their most intimate moments, though sometimes drag you in would be the more appropriate way to describe it. IT is an honor to be there for them, even when giving them the bad news. And as computers continue to enter/invade the field of medicine, there is something to be said about the human touch, the compassion that a machine just cannot give.