Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Pat Yourself on the Back - You Deserve It!

Decided that I'd reply to the comments on the previous post in a new post. Is that kosher? Thought it might be easier than having a reply comment that is five times longer than most people's long comments! :)

As I mentioned on Moof's blog, while the admiration is nice (thanks!) knowing stuff in medicine is no more admirable that knowing another field really well. Put me in a courtroom and I would have no idea what to do. Same in a classroom full of 8th graders. How does one keep an airport bathroom clean? Or keep a city's sanitation system running smoothly? We all have our specialized areas of knowledge, and some fields happen to get more credit than others. But every field is difficult to master, so everyone should give themselves a pat on the back for what they know.

The other thought is that "what" we are depends on who we're dealing with. A 'physician' is someone you see when you get sick in the hopes that the person has something (knowledge, treatment, etc) that can make you well. And that physician is only a physician in relation to a patient. While we refer to people in general as "Dr. So-and-so" outside of the clinic/hospital setting, that is for convenience sake. Just as saying Josh's mom, or Kathy's son. If there were no patients, there would be no title of "doctor." If there were no Josh, there would be no "Josh's mom." So "doctor" is merely a role we assume in our interaction with others in certain situations (outpatient clinic) and not in others (grocery store), just as we assume the role of daughter in the presence of our parents and mother in the presence of our children. Which means that although society traditionally gives physicians a lot of respect, which is greatly appreciated, being a physician is really no more admirable than being a trucker, or a receptionist. We all give back to society in the ways we can, and no one way is more admirable than the other. And physicians should always remember their teachers - both professors AND the patients - have taught them all they know. Those who forget this run the risk of having their heads become bigger than most doorways. Please knock some sense into me if you see signs of that happening. :)

Did that make any sense? Sorry for the rambling - am running on less sleep that usual... :)

This is a picture from the beautiful Bryce Canyon National Park. These hoodoos were just amazing.

5 Comments:

Blogger BW said...

Society has the highest regard for physicians because of what they do. Other than studying two times longer than an average professional, they're considered the saviours of man on earth. There something uniquely impressive about physicians that brings about the greatest respect man can bestow towards another human being. The fact that physicians restore broken bodies and cure illnesses - it's a job that no one else does and we all know that if they're not around we'd be in trouble city!

9:40 PM  
Blogger always learning said...

BW - (Welcome!) Thanks for the eloquent comment. While I very much appreciate the sentiment, I think we often get too much credit... After all, it is YOUR body that heals when it gets injured. Often medicine just assists in the process. And as for being in big trouble if physicians were not around, I could say the same thing if the garbage man didn't pick up the trash every week. Imagine the squalor from buildup of trash! Or if the water sanitation people didn't do their job - we can't even survive without water!

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Moof said...

WV, if the chef overcooks your steak, or your plumber doesn't quite fix a leak ... it's not the same as if a physician misdiagnoses heartburn instead of a coronary thrombosis ...

There's a lot of pressure on all of you to never, ever make a mistake.

You're not allowed a bad day, or to be ill yourself, or to give in to being grouchy ... and some of you almost never get fully away from your pagers and telephones.

It's a tough position to be in. You need to have a passion for it to able to continue doing it, year after year, fighting Medicaid, insurance companies, hospital or practice policies which make it hard for you to follow your conscience ...

And all of that on top of school loans which will be with you for many years.

Oh yeah .. I admire all of you. You're all expected to be a bit more than human ... and an awful lot of you pull it off quite well.

3:26 PM  
Blogger always learning said...

Moof,
You make good points. Yeah, I guess having a bad meal or having a leaky faucet isn't catastrophic. But there are many professions that don't get the recognition they deserve. Like the brilliant contractor who built the study houses we live in. Or the anonymous guy in the assembly line who put the brake pads into our car.

'misdiagnoses heartburn instead of a coronary thrombosis... There's a lot of pressure on all of you to never, ever make a mistake.'

definitely true. but most people have pressure - external or self-induced! the hedge fund manager who stands to make it big or lose it all has enormous pressure. the guy who works in a cubicle all day has pressure from the people above him, may live in fear that the next reshuffling may result in a pink slip, and may worry about being able to support his family if he were to lose his job. familiarity with a profession takes some of the pressure off. when we see someone with symptoms of heartburn, we're always thinking of the worst scenario and how to make sure it's not that. and being familiar with those kinds of situations takes some of the pressure off. just like an electrician who's wired homes for twenty years - he has much less pressure that he may wire things the wrong way and end up creating a fire in the new home. that's not to say that there aren't sleepless nights when we wonder whether or not our clinical judgement was correct, or when we call the patient in a few days just to check in... :o)

'You're not allowed a bad day, or to be ill yourself, or to give in to being grouchy'

well, at least not grouchy to the patient or staff. we can be grouchy after work :) but that's also true for most workplaces - you should be professional at work regardless of what else is going on in the personal life

'some of you almost never get fully away from your pagers and telephones.'

oh so true. but if there's a true emergency and i can help out, i think most human beings would be happy to lend a hand. and unfortunately, we're not the only field to be "on call." psychologists do it, plumbers do it, heck, anyone who owns their own business is never really away from work...

'fighting Medicaid, insurance companies, hospital or practice policies which make it hard for you to follow your conscience ...And all of that on top of school loans which will be with you for many years.'

my dear Moof, how ever do you know us so well? :)

7:29 PM  
Anonymous Moof said...

"my dear Moof, how ever do you know us so well?"

What? You think y'all are the only ones doing the observing? >;o)

11:31 PM  

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