“We’re as good as any, nicer than most.”
Imagine two doctors. One is warm but bumbling- empathic and compassionate, but minimally skilled. The other is coldly competent- smart and well-trained, but aloof and insensitive. They’re foils for each other. Perfect for a cheesy cartoon.
I’ve known both kinds of doctors. As residents, we knew an internist who was famous for rubbing his patients’ feet. The patients adored him, but he contributed little to their medical care. That was the resident’s job.
I’ve also known the other type- brilliant diagnosticians who barely listen to their patients, let alone touch them. They’re heroes, at least to themselves. They meet all the metrics. They’re models of efficiency, but little more.
But I know many more doctors who fit a third image. They’re kind and compassionate, and they’re skilled and smart. They listen intently to patients’ stories, and because they do, they hear details that others miss; they make diagnoses that elude those who rush. These same physicians take the time to answer questions. They explain nuanced concepts clearly, and they never leave a bedside without offering words of hope and comfort. They know a warm touch and carefully chosen words have the power to heal.
These physicians inspire us with their brilliance and compassion. They could function independently if they wanted to, but they don’t, because they value collaboration. Despite long hours and the challenges of their work, they cling tightly to their ideals.
So who are these physicians? You know. Just look around. They’re right there beside you, “as good as any, nicer than most.” They’re the physicians we all aspire to be.
Happy Sunday, everyone,