To me, being a doctor has been a tremendous blessing. In helping others, I have benefitted greatly. I have become aware of how important it is to appreciate all the gifts that are so precious – family, friends, health, independence and spiritual growth.
Being an ICU physician, I have been with patients that have more money than they can spend, more power in their occupations, and more possessions than they need, as they lay dying.
What I've learned in all those experiences - they would give it all up for one more trip outside. One more walk outside feeling the sun in their face, the rain on their backs or the snow beneath their feet. One more time with family and friends relaxing over a good meal.
Being grateful may be the one true secret to a truly happy life.
However, I am worried about the increasing dissatisfaction with the field of medicine.
Doctors, nurses and other health professionals have become overwhelmed with the business of medicine – quantitative measures of their effectiveness including patient satisfaction scores, number of visits in a day, how long their patients stay in the hospital, how often their patients return to the hospital, etc.
The business of medicine is rescue from failure.
We need to once again embrace the purpose of medicine. Most seasoned health care providers know that it is in the individual relationships we heal, that healing comes from the inside, that hope and belief in health may be the most important ingredient. These are not as quantifiable, but are measured in impact.
The purpose of medicine is to prevent failure.
Bob Schwartz, the lead of GE Healthcare’s design team, inspired me to think that we should not just think "DISEASE to WELLNESS."
He says we should go from "DISEASE to WELLNESS to SWELLNESS."
I think the same for our health care team.
Because being a physician or health care worker gives us the opportunity to help many people and their families have new tomorrows, new birthdays, new anniversaries.
This happens far in excess of our technical skills – it is because of our commitment to helping, commitment to healing others.
We need to embrace this as a field, and I think that means determining ways to reward prevention approaches, including appreciating impact of our talented healthcare providers, as well as measuring them on quantitative statistics.
Back to our foundation and embrace the art of medicine, as well as the science of medicine.
That would be swell.