The privilege of practicing medicine

Although I have been practicing medicine for a few years now, I am still often in awe of how much trust our patients put in us as health care providers.

When I was on labor and delivery rotations and during residency, I was able to see and hold a couple’s child even before they did, and was one of the select few allowed to share those intimate first moments with their child. I have had several patients who see me, their family physician, for a second opinion when a specialist recommends a certain intervention, despite my relative deficiency in knowledge in that area, simply because I am their family doctor. Almost every week I have patients confess for the first time out loud that they suffer from depression, anxiety, or prolonged grief after the passing of a loved one, in the sanctity of my exam room. I know more about some of these patients than their closest friends and family. I am still a “young” doctor, and most of the relationships I have with patients span between one day and three years. The fact that I am entrusted with these moments is humbling, and a true honor.

Always remember the role that you play in your patients’ lives. Whether you are a third year medical student or an attending physician in practice for 30 years, our patients literally put their lives in our hands, and share their darkest secrets with us in the exam room. Many physicians become hardened and jaded after years of dealing with difficult patients, bureaucratic insurance companies, and financial challenges. It is my hope that as I continue in this field, I will continue to see the doctor-patient relationship not as a burden, but as one that I am privileged to be a part of.

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