Anyone reading the news or listening to the telly these days, would realize that many in this country feel alienated and devalued. Many of these devalued individuals (people of color, the elderly, the disabled) are my patients who feel that American society has either targeted them or ignored them. It has become part of my duties as a physician to ensure that my patients feel cared for and valued by me, their physician.
I strive not to forget that my patients place their health in my hands. They trust that I will see them as individuals and will always give my best treatment based on my training. I pray each day, several times per day, that I remember my role as a physician/surgeon in the lives of my patients. I value their trust and I give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to seeking treatment. My patients come to me in times of crisis, I am in their lives by choice in that I chose this profession. I try to remember my role and the special privilege of that role in my practice.
My teaching duties have been a bit of a challenge these days. While I am quite comfortable with my subject matter, my students have been prone to complain (and whine) when they are not getting material presented the way that they would wish it to be presented. When I attended medical school, I adapted to each class and mastered the information. My students these days want “short cuts” to information. “Why do we have to know this?” is the favorite question. “You have to know everything in medicine.” is my favorite answer. Medicine is a learning profession always, without exception.
What is it going to take to make everyone feel secure? It’s going to take a willingness to accept changes and a willingness to keep lines of communication open. I can’t ensure anyone’s safety but I can ensure that I will treat each person with dignity and respect. The world changes and we must change with it. I have always welcomed the challenge of meeting changes and learning new information. I never dreamed that I would end up being the odd person because I love change and adventure. As I get older by the second, I am amazed by everyone I meet these days. It’s a good thing for me.