Pressures, struggles, irritations, frustrations, restrictions, disappointments, stresses, changes— mention these words to any physician and you’re likely to open up a floodgate of charged words and exhausting emotions. I could give you a long list in each of these categories myself. And yet, I still absolutely love coming to work every morning.
Why am I still a physician? Why do I persevere through all the difficulties and take in stride all the frustrations? Because it is only as a physician that I have the opportunity every day to be:
A Healer… Physicians (myself included) can lose an appreciation for the wonder of healing. It is no small thing to possess the skills and ability to improve and restore health and well-being. It is such a routine thing for me to give some penicillin for a strep throat, and yet it truly is a great and wondrous thing, something my patient cannot do for themselves and that would have been impossible just 100 years ago. I change people’s lives for the better every day.
A Listener… So many people need someone who will listen, and I consider it an honor to be able to lend them an ear. I have patients I see every month who admit they are coming in just because they know they can talk to me about their lives. I know that I am helping them, sometimes even more than the medicine I prescribe, just by genuinely being interested in what need to say.
A Teacher… I love to teach, and I get to teach people one-on-one every day about one of the most important topics in the world: their health. Wow! I love it!
A Friend… “How was your cruise?” “How many grandkids now?” “How’s your Mom doing?” “What do you call a dead blonde in a closet?” Being a physician means I have hundreds of people who I truly consider my friends, who bring a smile to my face whenever I see them. I remember one of my college professors who told me I should go into research, but I knew I would just go stir-crazy staring at test tubes all day. I love being with people, and being a physician is a great way to be a friend to many..
A Pastor… I have people confide to me the me deep places of their heart, things they would never tell even their own pastor. I give spiritual counsel, I point out God’s paths, I pray. Being a physician can be the closest thing to pastoral ministry that you can get. My patients are my parish.
A Giver… The Scriptures say “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” I can give to people every day, of my time, my skills, my knowledge, medicines, and countless papers, pamphlets, and books. I am tremendously blessed.
A Receiver… I receive so much— smiles, words and notes of appreciation, little gifts from the heart, and the satisfaction every day that I have walked with God and helped others to do the same.
A Lover… in the truest sense of the word, I have a wonderful opportunity through medicine to love people, through both word and deed. To love and be loved is the most important thing in the world, and I can think of no way I can love and be loved more than in medicine.
Just look at that list! There is no other profession on this planet that allows me to be a healer, listener, teacher, friend, pastor, giver, receiver, and lover, all rolled into one, every time I put that stethoscope around my neck. That is why I am still a physician.