Thursday, December 1, 2011

Doctors need doctors, too

A couple of days ago, I was sitting in a family doctor's office as a patient, waiting to meet my new PCP.

We physicians are notorious for neglecting our own health; a reported 30-50 % of physicians don't even have a PCP.*  I have certainly been guilty of self-treating my own issues, which were sometimes probably reasonable (gluing my small finger laceration instead of going to the ER for a stitch) and were sometimes probably not (self-treating my asthma during residency).

After my friend and colleague suicided,** though, I began reading a lot about physician health, both mental and physical.  I finally approached a pulmonology colleague about my worsening asthma symptoms and got myself to a PCP for some admittedly overdue health maintenance.  Ever since, I have been haranguing the residents I work with about their own health, urging each to have a PCP to call his/her own.

So, there I was, following my own advice, waiting to meet my new PCP in this new town.  And, I was nervous.  Very nervous, truth be told.  Would he be nice?  Competent?  Somewhat close to on time? Weirded out that I'm a family doc, too?  Family docs can be fairly harsh critics of other family docs when they're the patient, after all.

As I sat there, I began thinking about all of the new patients I've seen since arriving here.  Maybe they sat in our waiting room wondering about me with similar apprehensions.  Did I allay their fears?  Most of them have been quite gracious and welcoming to their newcomer family doc.  I resolve to be less family-doc-critic and more gracious-patient when I meet my new doc.

He turned out to be quite kind, highly competent, and very respectful.  And, yes, I behaved myself, thank you very much.  :)  I walked out of his office pleased with the encounter and satisfied that my health is in good hands in this new city.

I hope I've succeeded in allaying my new patients' fears as well.
** see post date 11-15-11

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