It’s 10 PM and I’m on the couch, laptop in lap, beer in hand, signing charts. I’m taking a mental health day tomorrow and yet here I am. Working. I suck at relaxing.
Nothing this week was easy or straightforward. Complicated patients with complicated medical histories and even more complicated social histories. A hot and stuffy resident work room. Unrelenting heat outside, unrelenting pressure to move faster inside.
Only two of my private patients showed up this morning (I typically only book private patients on Thursday mornings; the remainder of my clinical time is spent with the residents and students). The student I was working with this morning asked me a number of insightful questions.
What’s this job like?
Why did you stay here?
Loaded questions, for certain. Over the course of our conversation I said things I was not capable of saying six years ago when I started this gig.
I enjoy caring for this diverse patient population. Refugee families, urban families, military families, and everything in between. I enjoy managing all their problems, answering all their questions, and growing with them over time. This is a rare job where you get to know families over their lifetimes, and I relish the opportunity to do so.
I enjoy caring for this community. It is a community in trauma. There is still so much I don’t understand and every day I learn something new that helps me to do my job just a shade better. But I’m not there yet. And this community needs me and my colleagues to do better.
I get to work with some seriously awesome people. I sent a message last night to one of my interns who, earlier in the week, had cared for a couple of rather complex teenagers. When I sat down to cosign his charts last night, I discovered what an incredibly thorough job he did in his documentation. It was careful and complete and left absolutely nothing to the imagination. He deserved a compliment and I was happy to pay him one. At the start of the year I wasn’t sure how he was going to be, but today I can say I’m pretty damn pleased.
The student was happy I was able to openly share my insights on the job and the profession. I often say this is what I do, it’s not who I am. Perhaps I need to revise that statement. My job is as much a part of me as my blood. I cannot exist without it. It makes the separation harder (see above note on signing charts at 10 PM), and it makes the potential for burnout that much more realistic. I’m well supported at home and work. I’m driven to do right by my patients and this community. This is the work I was meant for, in every sense of the phrase.
This is my work.