A pediatrician reflects, with deep gratitude to her patients

In just a few days I’ll be leaving the clinic where I’ve practiced pediatrics for the past six years. The last months have been a flurry of last visits with families, paperwork, and tying up loose ends. There have been many, many goodbyes. I’ve been deeply moved by the expressions of gratitude and affection that many families have shared with me. It seems it is always in these times of change and endings that we are most open with each other.

And so, as families share their gratitude with me, I share mine with them. I wonder if patients and families know how deeply they impact their physicians? I wonder if they know how much they’ve taught me? That I, too, remember our shared experiences. The joy of a new birth, the pain of an injury, the horror of abuse, the grief of death. That I’ve carefully guarded the most intimate of life’s details that they’ve shared with me. That these experiences have moved me as a fellow human and shaped me as a pediatrician. I wonder if they know that every kind note and drawing is saved and treasured. Brought out and savored during the hard days to get me through. I wonder if they know that, even on the toughest days, as they’ve waited too long to see me, or when I seem rushed, I still cherish my time with them inside the exam room.

The end of this particular phase of my career, taking my leave of a community of patients and families that I care deeply about, has left me with a feeling akin to grief. But, it has also given me the luxury of time to reflect. After years of training and now a number of years of busy practice, there are occasional flickers of fatigue (mostly related to the constant deluge of administrative tasks). But, my heart is still fully present here in medicine. What a gift it is to spend my days caring for children — partnering with their families to give them the best start in life. Helping them stay healthy and working to heal them when they are sick.

I remain profoundly honored to be doing this work and deeply grateful to the families who have entrusted me to do it.

And so, thanks to my patients and their families, I move on to this new chapter of life with a renewed spirit, deeper knowledge, and a full and thankful heart.

Heidi Roman is a pediatrician who blogs at My Two Hats.

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