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  • Writer's pictureTrish Uniac

What's In It For Me?

Sometimes my day doesn't go the way I expect. I start off early, coffee in hand, ready to change the world.

And then I get a phone call.

Or a text.

Or an email.

And everything goes sideways.

I'm more likely to have these days when I'm not organized, or not following my usual schedule. My colleagues and patients are more likely to lean on me and make my day slip away from me when they aren't organized or are having a bad day.

It’s no one's fault that someone in the community died this morning, or that every lab in my inbox was shiny red. And it is so hard to not take this out on my patients.

They need something from me, and that is frustrating.

And true.

No one comes to the doctor for funsies. My patients have something going on that they need help with.

Often they’re scared.

And I need to remember that they aren’t trying to put me further behind schedule. I promise, I do know this with all my logical brain, but sometimes my emotional brain takes over and she’s a jerk. I need to consciously quiet down the icky feelings.

I do this by reminding myself that I need my patient too. I bring to mind what they’re doing for me. Sometimes it’s a reassuring smile or information about how to clean out my septic tank. I can be learning something new medically or hearing a joke. Their birthday may remind me that a family celebration is coming up.

There’s always something.

And of course, obviously, I couldn’t be a doctor if it wasn’t for them. Recognizing that if I didn’t have patients, there would be no reason to write orders, and that would be no fun at all.

That brief moment of remembering that I get much more out of most of our interactions than they get from me is often enough to help me snap back into shape.

And when I approach these encounters with gratitude, curiosity, and humility, I’m a better doc.

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