Friday, January 25, 2013

Saying "yes"

One evening a few weeks ago, I attended the local Academy of Medicine meeting.  I was just inside the door taking my coat off when our executive director approached me.

"There's a news team here looking for someone to interview about the flu outbreak.  Could you help them?"

He went on to say that the news crew had been waiting for an Infectious Disease doc to walk through the door, but they were getting impatient.  Feeling my Family Medicine pride swell within me (along with the stage "ham" who can't resist a chance to perform), I said, "yes."

I have some definite workaholic tendencies, so I try to think about most requests for 24 hours before responding.  I've gotten better at saying "no" over the last few years, especially to projects that don't meet my own professional goals.

But the spontaneous "yes" moments in my life - those moments where my limbic system leapt ahead of the rest of my brain and I said "yes" with magnificent joy -  have all led to good things (my husband, my fellowship, my stage experiences).  In those moments, the "yes" erupted from a place so deep inside of me that I may never access it consciously.

Last night's "yes" definitely came from that same inaccessible place. As a family doc, I often feel like I am fighting a war against all of the mis-information that my patients come across.  They didn't go to medical school, and I know it's unfair to expect them to recognize Dr. Oz's propensity to recommend non-evidence based treatments or Jenny McCarthy's insane reasoning regarding vaccines.

Each of us in medicine can be part of the solution.  In my prior city, I contributed a short patient education column about every other month to a neighborhood paper.  I like to write, I like to stand up in front of people, and, most importantly, I like to promote Family Medicine and honest health information every chance I get.

And, if I convinced just one person watching the evening news last night to get a flu shot, it'll have been worth it.

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