This Is Not About Physician Burnout!!!
In fact, it is about the reverse thereof. The woman you see at the podium is my doctor. Dr. Patricia North. An Internist universally respected on Hilton Head Island as the best damn doctor in town. Patients have typically been on a waiting list for two years to join her concierge practice.
The event? Dr. North’s recent “retirement reception.” After 35 years of clinical practice, she is hanging up her stethoscope and heading off to cruise the waterways in a trawler captained by her husband. She is leaving medicine with a smile on her face, just as she always did when I saw her in the office, having found an appropriate Internist to take her place. Of the 800 patients in her practice, 275 patients lined up at this event to say “thank you.” A genuine feel good event.
AND. A few days later, I had the opportunity to have lunch with two of my fellow Board members of HHI’s Volunteers in Medicine. A great group of retired doctors, nurses, pharmacists, etc. who provide free medical care for the underprivileged on our generally overprivileged island in South Carolina. One of the topics we discussed was how often our volunteer physicians describe their time at VIM as the best experience of their careers. No pressure from insurance companies. Just patients who appreciate and comply.
Bottom Line. As I drove home from that lunch meeting, I thought about what I had seen in the last week. Happy doctors. At both ends of the practice socioeconomic spectrum. I then juxtaposed those observations with what I am going to be talking about, yet again, in an upcoming Intellus Webinar on April 2nd. Physician suicide, depression and burnout.
You know what I realized this week? The practice of medicine doesn’t have to drag doctors down. It can be a joy, regardless of the socioeconomics of the practice setting.
How can we help to spread the joy???