Some people wondered when I was a grad student in Creative Writing applying to medical school what the connection was. At first it may seem like there isn't one, even though we increasingly see many physician writers or artists. Others claim the whole left side/right side of the brain connection. It wasn't until several years ago that I fully realized what made both medicine and writing "jive" for me.
I was interested in everyone's stories.
I'm not an extrovert but I'm not exactly an introvert either. But somehow whenever I walk into an exam room, I always want to know your story.
Sure I want to hear the typical things, like what medicines you take, what symptoms your'e having. But even though these things are already in the chart, I'll ask my patient and their family the same questions again.
Because it matters how you say it, and it matters how it is interpreted. Just like with any writing, any short story or poem, there are different inflections and angles and phrasing of words that makes each telling unique.
And more than that, I want to get to know each child as a person.
So in my (still-new-to-me) practice, I want to thank the families who welcome me to their community even though I've been there for 6-7 months now. And I want to thank each family for letting me in to their own personal story. Some may say I'm "slow" (running late) or "thorough" or "chatty", I just say that I'm getting to know you.
Today is Doctors' Day in the United States. On this Doctor's Day, I'd like to say thank you to my physician teachers--those attendings I had who really understood why it was important to teach me a certain concept, and not just to see what I did and didn't know. I'm most grateful to M.D., who I still see your patients in my clinic and I'm reminded of you offering us as residents your arms to practice IV placements on. And J.S., who is still one of the most intelligent and also intimidating physicians I know. And J.C, for insight into medical ethics and compassion, even in the middle of the night. And thank you to the doctors (both good and bad) who have come before me--those ones who taught me that compassion is important no matter what.
Thank to my colleague peers who I learned side by side with during and after residency, like Silvia (who has so much heart) and Heidi (who gives so much of herself for her patients) and Neda (who I will always refer happily to as I brag about her and her mother) and Chris (who I will always appreciate for his teamwork attitude). And so many that I always forget and then remember in those small and important moments. (I'm looking at you Tony for taking my last minute referral last week!)
Most of all, thank you to my patients who inspire me to be the best doctor I can be.