What you don’t know about your doctor

I’ve been thinking about this post for awhile, and finally, am going to spill some “secrets” about me and my colleagues.

 

We are in debt.

I mean, real debt.  It actually costs most of us almost 1 million dollars to become your doctor.

 

It has taken us a long time to get here.

Let’s do some math.  4 years of college + 4 years of medical school + 5 years of surgery training + 2 years of fellowship = a long ass time and saying goodbye to my 20’s.  While my friends were off going to clubs, getting married and taking vacations, I was busy trying to learn about microbiology, genetics, and anatomy.  So, although we “appreciate” Jenny McCarthy’s medical degree from Google University, please listen to your real doctor.

 

We hate when you ask us when you can go smoke.  Um, duh, the answer is never.

 

Being a doctor is oftentimes like being a parent.

We have to have the hard conversations that can often lead you to not liking us… and, that is okay.  Yes, just like your mom tells you, “We are doing this because we care about you.”  Let’s face the facts, almost 70% of the United States is overweight or obese and that is not healthy.  This means, as the person who is supposed to care most about your health, we have to TALK to you about it.  Remember when you didn’t take your seizure medications and then wrecked your car?  Yes, we have to TALK about that.  You are addicted to your pain medication.  Yep, we have to TALK about that, too.

 

We joke about some pretty gross things.

Poop, snot, amniotic fluid.  Nothing is immune or off limits to our often very warped sense of humor.  If you happen to overhear us, you will probably think we are all a little crazy.  However, with what we see on the daily, we gotta find humor somewhere.

 

We make really good secretaries.

Ha!  Just kidding, I wish you could have seen my assistant’s face when I told her I was going to add this.  But, we do a ton of paperwork.  Out of a 12 hour workday, up to 4 of those hours will be devoted to writing notes, signing orders, filling out insurance paperwork, and returning phone calls.  Let’s do some more math.  40 patients in the hospital to see (which is an average for me) x 6 minutes to document the patient’s concerns, my physical exam, lab and/or radiology results, and my plan for that day = 4 hours.  Don’t forget to add in that I spend a large portion of my day in the operating room.  Unfortunately, there is this new found belief that if it isn’t documented, it didn’t happen.  All of these factors combined create an atmosphere that is paper centered, not patient centered… And we hate it.  We went through umpteen years of school and training (see above) to take care of you, not fill out forms.

 

Our families sacrifice so we can take care of yours.

I was on call the night my husband tore his biceps tendon in half.  I had to tell him to take ibuprofen, put ice on it, and try to not pick up our 18-month-old son until I could get home… the next day.  Although, our families understand this most of the time, it can still be hard on them… and us.

 

We take you home with us.

Like one of my own mentors recently stated, we do have our own cemeteries.  You may not remember the faceless doctor in the white coat who told you that we could not save your loved one.  But the pain, the anguish that we see in your eyes makes an imprint on our hearts.  There are patients that we never forget and days that we wish we could.  We see unimaginable horrors and yet have to press on.

 

And lastly, although we may have bad days and curse ourselves for choosing this sometimes tortured profession, we love what we do and care deeply about you, our patients.

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18 thoughts on “What you don’t know about your doctor

  1. Love this. I work in EMS, and many of the same things could be said. Of course, what we deal with is just a minor taste of what you deal with on a daily basis but it is enough to create a massive amount of respect for those of you who deal with patients after we drop them off to you.

  2. Ya I too understand all doctors make many sacrificesto their families and love ones and also no time fot themselves. The doctors whose heart are full of compassion and love, makes a great doctor. Keep it up all doctors we really appreciate ur hard work and ur commitment ur rewar is in heaven.

  3. Not all Doctors are the problem…use an electron microscope and evaluate ourselves..our mouth are our greatest enemy because we seem to over pop and slide ‘goodies’ (food and the like). Doctors can advice, it’s whether we follow their advice…

  4. I don’t know, but this sounds a lot like the daily life of most professionals, business people, and even manual workers that earn salaries in the 6 figures. Is the profession more noble and admirable because it deals with the health of people? It depends on each individual doctor. Because truth be told, there are more doctors who make serious and often fatal medical mistakes than there are judges who condemn innocent people, or firefighters who can’t evacuate everyone from a burning home . So dear doctor, do be proud of what you do but a hectic life is not unique to your profession.

  5. To the post above, when doctors make mistakes the consequences can be absolutely dire. When I first started residency I was terrified for this very reason. The responsibility is enormous. Plus you have to deal with this responsibility while being rushed as you are expected to see large amounts of patients in short times, increasing the risk of mistakes. A hectic life is not unique to our profession but a hectic life with enormous responsibility while we are being told by the general public and lawmakers that we “earn too much” is unique to our profession.

  6. You young people I admire you so much it takes so long to get there. I want to tell you my story back in 1969 I had a c-section got sick my husband called my Dr he left his card playing or whater ever he was doing and came to my house called an ambulance rode with me left his car running and saved my life. Dr Van Johnson saved my life. Long story Good dedicated Dr

    • You young people I admire you so much it takes so long to get there. I want to tell you my story back in 1969 I had a c-section got sick my husband called my Dr he left his card playing or whater ever he was doing and came to my house called an ambulance rode with me left his car running and saved my life. Dr Van Johnson saved my life. Long story Good dedicated Dr

  7. We DVM’s can relate to this type of article too. The cost isn’t quite as expensive, but it’s no skip in the park either.

  8. Pingback: A Surgeon’s Survivor’s Guilt | Hot Heels, Cool Kicks, & a Scalpel

  9. Pingback: The Survivor’s Guilt Most Trauma Surgeons Can’t Escape | EuroMarket News

  10. Pingback: What the Badge and Stethoscope Share | Danae Lear

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