Today is Doctors Day 2019 - A day to celebrate those who spent approximately their first 30 years of their lives training in order to dedicate their lives to others - to holding hands, staying healthy, fighting the battles and embracing the loss with our patients.
I forgot about Doctors Day this year. I forgot it was coming. Honestly, I actually forgot it existed. I was lost in a sea of work, patient care and preparing myself and family for my own upcoming surgery. I completely forgot. Until a single text message reminded me in the most powerful way.
Amidst rounding yesterday, I received a text message from a prior fellow, and now friend. The message said “You’re pretty awesome.” I am pretty sure everyone around me could see the cock-eyed glance I directed toward my phone as I read this.
Why is he saying this? Why now? Is this some weird joke?
Then the image came through. A copy of a post I wrote last year (https://www.physiciansweekly.com/do-doctors-really-celebrate-on-national-doctors-day/) regarding my musings on whether or not doctors really celebrate Doctors Day. The image is included below and I admit, my eyes were misty. I was so moved. The post was placed into a gift for someone and the message was passed to him. We are no longer working in the same city, but somehow, it landed on his desk.
As I re-read my prior post from a year before, I was struck with how true it still is. How grateful I was that others were reading this, feeling appreciated and echoing the sentiment. One that I needed to be reminded of again. Life is amazing, isn’t it? The ripple effect we can have on others, and ultimately, even ourselves.
I finished rounds and continued to ponder how I felt about Doctors Day this year. How have I changed in the last year? What do I think of now, as I think of my role, and those of my colleagues, in medicine.
I think about the “job.” There are many posts highlighting the years physicians work before even starting to practice independently. The training, the hours, the sacrifices and the successes. But, what is it we really do?
So, today, I am sharing a bit about my day. See, I am a doctor. I am also a teacher, student, advisor, mentor, mentee, scientist, speaker, writer, counselor and friend. Add in wife, mother, daughter, friend, entrepreneur, reader, traveler and so much more.
Today’s List (as of 3pm) has included:
Playing with my kids, answering phone calls about patients, rounding on patients in the hospital and teaching/counseling them on infections, medications and sometimes, life in general. I spend further time later writing notes, working on book chapters, research projects and papers to publish. Discussing education lectures I am giving later this year, working on a protocol for a new research project and emailing trainees I supervise on various research projects. Then home, picking up lunch for the family along the way, doing laundry, cleaning up, logging back into my office computer to follow-up on patient issues and repeating many of the same tasks above. Now, as I sit here writing this post, it seems ridiculous. The number of hats I wear. That all physicians wear.
This year, on Doctors Day, I find myself smiling. I am grateful for all of the physician colleagues I have, toiling away not simply striving to provide exceptional patient care within a broken healthcare system, but simultaneously, those same physicians are endlessly aiming to improve healthcare through education, research, counseling, administration and policy. Smiling at the number of hats we all wear, that if could be illustrated, I am convinced would be reminiscent of a Dr. Seuss styling.
And as I re-read my forgotten post, I remain steadfast in my belief of how doctors truly celebrate Doctors Day.
“Do doctors celebrate Doctors’ Day? I am not sure that we celebrate it in the way Hallmark would suggest. I think we celebrate it not for ourselves, but in deep, sometimes wordless, appreciation of our colleagues. In recognition of the commitment and care of our colleagues. And at the end of the day, we do not toast ourselves. We toast our colleagues and silently strive to improve. To be worthy of the thank you, the note of appreciation, the calling.” ( Dr. Kelly Cawcutt, March 2018 blog post, Physicians Weekly)