What Doctors' Day Means to Me
I am always amazed by my colleagues, and never so much as during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I graduated from medical school in 1991 and have been through many different trials and tribulations, but nothing like what 2020 had to share. On Doctors’ Day, I want to thank my colleagues, mentors, friends and mentees for your selfless work. Health care teams have truly risen to the occasion, giving of their heart, mind and body—working endlessly to care for those who at times they felt so ill equipped to help.
I have watched them lead in their professional and personal lives as the world needed them to be the rock upon which to rebuild. This work does not just affect those caring directly for COVID-19 patients, it affects all. In addition to the hospitalists, intensivists and emergency department doctors, COVID-19 has affected:
- Surgeons whose patients are sicker because they delayed care
- OB-GYNs who counsel women in their childbearing years, and pregnant and lactating women on whether to take the vaccine with little, if any, evidence-based medicine
- Pediatricians trying to protect kids from multisystem inflammatory syndrome in the face of many who feel kids are not at risk for being sick
- Pathologists handling autopsies and specimens amid conspiracy theories about fraudulent labeling of COVID-19 as a cause of death
- Ear, nose and throat surgeons and anesthesiologists working directly in a patient’s airway
- Trauma surgeons caring for patients without knowing their medical history
- Clinic physicians addressing their patients’ fears and questions
- Hospice doctors comforting—often by phone or iPad—families who could not always be present during their loved one’s end of life.
Doctors’ Day puts me in a somewhat awkward position. I have never felt that I am special, and I have tried to focus my attention on my patients and teammates. But I recognize as a leader (with gray hair) that honoring each other is very important. Doctors are no exception.
Think about the effort it takes to become a physician. For me personally, the journey involved undergraduate (four years), medical school (four years), internship and residency (three years for me, but some have residencies that are even longer, sometimes five or more years), fellowship (two years). I even went on to get a business degree (another two years).
The journey is long, but the fulfillment is incredible. So is the burden and responsibility, not just on the physician, but also on their family and loved ones. It is a journey of personal sacrifice.
I have always felt so honored to be allowed into a patient’s life. I want to celebrate not only the road my colleagues and I have traversed, but also the vantage point we have now. When you see a physician, recognize he or she has a story too. Realize that his or her desire to help care for you and your loved ones come from deep inside. It is an honor to be a doctor, and it is also really hard work.
In closing, thank you to my physician heroes for assuming the responsibility of helping patients and colleagues make life-defining and often life-altering decisions. Thank you for being accountable for outcomes and having the courage to love and help. Thank you for celebrating the joy of birth and dignity of death.
Most of all, Doctor, thanks for being you at a time when we need to recover our personal, community’s, nation’s and world’s health.
May you find energy in what you do, may you know you make a difference, may you hear “thank you” and “I appreciate you” every day of your life, and may you celebrate the honor it is to care for someone’s mother, father, daughter, son, brother, sister or friend. God Bless YOU!
On Doctors' Day, thank you to my physician heroes for assuming the responsibility of helping patients and colleagues make life-defining and often life-altering decisions.