This is a piece from last year that is kinda resonating today, so I’m gonna share it with you. –PalMD
I’ve written before, I love my work. You really have to love medicine
to do it, because, contrary to popular belief, it’s a lousy way to get
rich. I’m not starving or anything, but there are dozens of easier ways
to make a much better living…
I’m sitting here in my robe, drinking coffee, getting ready to go
out for a birthday party. I’m drinking coffee because at 2:38 a.m., the
E.R. called me to tell me a patient of mine was being admitted–to
“So, why are you calling me?” I asked groggily.
“I just wanted to let you know,” the E.R. resident answered.
Most doctors recognize this phenomenon. We are often perceived as
sitting in a lucite box somewhere with a phone and a notepad, anxiously
awaiting calls, trivial or otherwise.
Last night a patient was furious that no one had gotten back to him
sooner about his sinus infection–a problem that his doctor has just
diagnosed and started treating. He wasn’t better yet, and, well, it was
Sorry, folks. Medicine isn’t magic, and doctors aren’t magicians.
Sure, we have decades of medical science to help us out, but c’mon! If
you have a cold, I don’t have a secret cure that I’m holding back from
you. It takes 10-14 days to get better, unless you’re lucky, in which
case it takes a week to a week-and-a-half.
But when you get a trivial call from a nurse in the middle of the
night (“Doctor, Mr. Smith is constipated and hasn’t had a BM in 3
days.” “Great, why do you want me to know this at 4 a.m.??”) you don’t
want to react harshly. It’s better to have the nurses feel comfortable
calling you. I would hate to think the nurse was scared to call me when
my patient takes a turn for the worse.
So, as a doctor you walk a lot of fine lines. I’m a little tired
tonight from some trivial phone calls. The next one might be important.
That’s why I’m not drinking at the party tonight. It’s a job that
doesn’t stop at the office door.
I’ve heard a lot of docs discourage their kids from going into
medicine, but I don’t get it. Yes, it’s hard, it’s not always
financially lucrative, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. If my
daughter wants to do it, I’ll weep with joy (hell, anytime she does
something I weep with joy).
Which brings me to one last point in my weekend blathering…
Medicine is very hard, very serious work–people’s lives are in your
hands. So when I see “google experts” and others bloviating about the
latest woo, it really, really pisses me off. These are people’s lives were dealing with here.
I spent 11 years training for this, and I’m constantly learning. If
that doesn’t apply to you, then shut up–please. Your opinions on
vaccines, homeopathy, reiki, etc. are worthless.
Arrogant? You bet your ass it’s arrogant. I’ve earned the right. All
the googling in the world won’t earn you the right to publicly express
/End of current rant.