Before quitting medicine, consider the children

There’s little doubt that many doctors are frustrated, with some compelled to leave medicine altogether.

And with the myriad of obstacles intruding on the doctor-patient relationship, combined with the factors contributing to burnout, that’s certainly an understandable stance.

So, why do so many continue the uphill climb to practice the best medicine they can?

Emergency physician Edwin Leap gives his explanation, in a poignant column from Emergency Medicine News:

We may rail against so much that we do. But our smallest patients truly need us. They have not contributed to their own dysfunction. They have not abused their bodies or abused the system. They do not threaten me with harm or call me names. And unlike so very many, they don’t even want to be in the emergency department. They almost never ask for pain medicine, and they have little to no interest in disability.

They need us because they are sick and dying. They need us because their parents are too young or inexperienced, and they just need to be helped through a stressful time. A few need us because their parents are dangerous and stupid, and they need to be identified and rescued.

Despite the anger that doctors feel, the children keeps Dr. Leap going. After all, he writes, “If I quit in anger, what example will that set to my own, who may yet be physicians? If I decide that even the children aren’t worth my own discomfort, what message will that send to my sons and daughter?”

Powerful reasons indeed, and certainly something to keep in mind as physicians face a growing number of challenges to best care for their patients today.