The doctor you are seeing may have already left medicine.
Yes, you still have an appointment.
Yes, they are still in the room, taking your history and performing a physical exam.
But inside their mind, they have already decided.
They haven’t said it out loud.
There’s been no official resignation letter.
But it’s a done deal.
It may be six months from now or ten or twenty-four.
It doesn’t matter because the decision has already been made.
And the thing that did it was not so big in the grand scheme of things.
There’s a war going on, after all, and people are dying.
But they are dying inside, too, a little bit each day.
And the last small thing that was the final straw was just stacked on a pile of hay below.
Maybe it was the extra hours week after week.
Maybe it was COVID and the lack of support or protection.
Maybe it was the double pay cut during the grueling pandemic.
Maybe it was the nurse and other support staff taken without notice or their input, making their job that much harder.
Maybe it was the lack of being asked their opinion on anything or even just if they’re okay.
For me, it was a room with a window.
A room I had been seeing patients in for over five years.
I came in one day, and my name was gone, and a different name was on the door.
It was an oversight, no doubt. We’re short-staffed. They must have been distracted.
Until it happened again the following week.
I was told my room was assigned to someone else.
I’ve been there every week on the same day for over five years.
I was there from the time the site opened.
I was asked to pick a room.
I picked the room with the window that I could peek through between patients reminding me of the world outside.
I could see the patients walking in the building, sometimes alone and sometimes with family or friends, reminding me that they’re human and that I was chosen to care for them that day.
I picked the outer facing, larger room so that there was space for the husband or daughter or caregiver or friend who often accompanied my patients.
But I was reassigned to the inner, smaller room with no window and no space to stand directly in front of my patient during my exam.
I had no recourse.
There was nothing more to say or do.
So that’s when it happened.
Something shifted inside, and I left medicine over a silly room.
They took my time.
They took my money.
They even took my nurse.
But when they took my room, they took my dignity with it, and that’s when I left.
So the next time you hear about the “Great Resignation in Medicine” and you read all the statistics of physicians that have left, just understand what a huge underestimate those numbers reflect.
That doctor in front of you may already be gone, too.
The author is an anonymous physician.
Image credit: Shutterstock.com