Being a doctor is really hard. It’s rewarding and wonderful, but really really hard. The sacrifice and hard work begins in our 20’s when many of us put off starting families to learn, study and train. (More on my background here.) We then spend the rest of our years keeping up with the most recent evidence and guidelines so we can best care for our patients. We have long days constrained by time, insurance companies and increasingly complicated EMR’s. While we navigate these days our main goal is to have caring and meaningful patient interactions even though some of these interactions may be very complicated or we may be delivering bad news. We spend more time seeing patients, charting, calling patients to relay results, attending continuing education courses and sitting through meetings about running our practice than we do with our own families.
So why would anyone do this? Because we love it and we wouldn’t do anything else. Doctors genuinely care about the health and well-being of their patients, their patient’s families and their communities. This is why the current climate of “haters” is so frustrating. If you spend any time on social media you will see what I mean. There are people who demonstrate not just distrust and dislike for doctors and scientists, but downright hatred and disrespect.
That is why I am sending you all this letter.
Thank you for everything you do. Thank you for spending the time to care for all people sick and well. Thank you for focusing on health and prevention but also being there during illness or injury. You are important and appreciated and I want you to remember that even when faced with people who will try to discredit you. Ignore them.
For primary care physicians, ignore people who say doctors only push pills or they aren’t “holistic”. We know that your job is to care for the whole patient whether it’s physical, social or emotional. We know that not every treatment option is a pill. Keep up the good work being there for your patients and focusing on all aspects of their lifestyle that will keep them safe and healthy. Continue providing them with the best advice and latest treatment options when they find that sometimes, no matter what they do, they still get sick or injured.
For specialists, ignore people who say doctors only focus on disease. That’s your job and we really appreciate it! We need your expertise in your organ system or disease process. We rely on you to help us with the latest evidence-based tests and treatment for things we may rarely see. Thank you for being there when we don’t have all of the answers.
As a doctor myself, I know that even under the toughest circumstances we will continue to strive for the best care for our patients. We will be there for them no matter what. We will be there even if they are non-compliant, choose unhealthy lifestyles or elect to use non-traditional treatments. We will be there because we are doctors and that is what we do.
For all of these reasons, thank you.