I cried the other night, after pressing publish on the button that spilled the beans on the intimate fact that I had officially left the exam room. I had done the unthinkable & performed a healthcare mic drop.
The tearful incident occurred as I re-read the announcement out loud to my husband, himself a physician:
I was leaving clinical medicine.
We went to medical school together, he & I; spent countless hours (years!!) dedicating ourselves – through missed opportunities, financial burdens, and at times, downright unpleasant obligations – to be where we were today.
.. and yet here I was, saying goodbye to it all.
The warm responses
from readers have meant the world to me, especially those who already feel the passion that flows through my veins, regardless of the project I take on. I’ve infused similar passion into “creating” on a daily basis; whether it’s creating & nurturing the relationships in the office, or creating & nurturing side venture content to help make the world a happier (more inspired? More curious? More exciting?) place, if I can help it.
(it’s why I’ve picked this blog back up after so many years, for revamp. I needed a space top showcase all that I could create..)
But while I have the potential – and momentum – to create even more, I still need “support fuel”.
We all do, especially when stepping away from what we thought would be our life’s work (and had so vigorously dedicated ourselves to working there).
And we especially need that support fuel when we pivot. Because we frankly have moments -many! – in which we find ourselves running “on empty”.
When you’re used to being a “giver”; the one that “gives” in a relationship (as we do in many healthcare relationships), it feels good to know someone out there still needs you, values you, and appreciates you, even if you’ve decided to step away from what you originally committed to ;
It’s been amazing to know that I still fill a hole out there; a need. and it’s been just as amazing to have my own need filled as well.
Even when what you’re giving can no longer defined in the traditional sense of we’re used to, in the medicine caregiving of today.
Not everyone understands.
There is a Forbes writer who follows me on a social media platform. His response probably echoes what many of you think.
“Terrible news, Doc. But wonderful news too. Best wishes!”
I know what he means when he writes this. He’s putting the disappointment in delicate terms and being supportive. I’m fully aware that my exit is terrible news for the patients that rely on passionate people like me.
There’s also been more direct responses,
like ones telling me I’m abandoning people who count on me; that it’s my duty to remain devoted to the practice of medicine. More on other negative responses to come.
I understand the source of their frustration. Because patients are ultimately innocent victims in this whole ‘broken healthcare’ thing. But at the end of the day, we all need to focus on personal health in order to deliver quality care. We’ve got to be happy, healthy physicians to make our patients happy and healthy, too.
The process reminds me of a Samuel Shem quote, from his book ‘House of God’:
At a cardiac arrest, the first procedure is to take your own pulse.
Well, folks, it’s ‘code’ time.
Except the ‘code’ is being announced inside our heads, instead of overhead like it always is. We’re experiencing a healthcare cardiac arrest and all the players in healthcare know it.
As a member of this team for over a decade, I’ve finally decided to take my own pulse.
I still wish to contribute to the resuscitation efforts, mind you, I simply recognize the need for me to step aside from my traditional role on the team, after years of neglecting that I needed to.
Here’s the reality of the code: I – no, we – are operating under a system in which taking of one’s own pulse is not encouraged. It is simply an unstated no-no. The system expects us to go, go, go, plowing through at the designated rate, and with increasingly greater demands. But never to break down.
I, for one, can stay practicing in it. Not as a caring human being.
I’m not giving up. I’m focused on bringing change, both directly (with my own voice) and indirectly (through SoMeDocs and through effectively fueling the voices of other physicians and facilitating the connections physicians need).
It’s been bittersweet.
(more updates to follow)