Don't become a doctor #7 - Thankless

During my last clinic, one of my patients thanked me. This was such a rarity that I was taken aback. It had been so long since I'd heard those words from a patient. And my clinic is amazing. My patients actually like to see me. My personal clinic is probably more representative of an actual IM practice than 70% of all IM residency clinics.

A lot of people see good health care as something they are entitled to. I am simply performing a duty that is owed to them. It requires no more thanks than the garbage man or the meter reader. Some feel that for the privilege of learning through them, I should be thanking them rather than vice versa. Some just resent me and don't feel I deserve thanks.

However you get there, it amounts to the same thing: medicine is one of the most thankless jobs out there. It is countless hours of stress and worry, without any palpable reward from the patient except a copay if they have private insurance (which I don't see as a resident).

So, I had to find some satisfaction in the practice of medicine apart from the praise of my patients. I found ways to enjoy every clinic and every patient interaction, without seeking approval or praise from my patients. And it's to the point now where I feel fulfilled with my patient encounters, and I enjoy caring for patients. The thanks, while much appreciated, is not necessary.

If you think this job is a wealth of praise and admiration, think again. Often, despite our best efforts, we receive resentment and enmity rather than anything good-willed. Because all too often, I've taken exceptional care of someone, and been thanked with curses and derision.


Anonymous said...

wow i could never fathom not thanking the soul who saved me from the great abyss :/

Shabine said...

I was blown away when I came out of hospital and the nurses, and CA's cried. One of my doctor's seemed wistful and sad. It occurred to me that maybe in caring for me, they had grown attached, grown to care about me. I had thought they were just doing their jobs.

Anonymous said...

Your posts are inspiring and immensely poignant.

So, thank you. I wouldn't want to be one to deny you the thanks you so rightfully deserve.