I arrived at my desk after a holiday hiatus with renewed energy to tackle the day. It sat there, unassuming, on my desk with a note. My heart was giddy, knowing my tea pastime would level up. Opening the letter, I realized it was from my boss. My boss had given me a tumbler, and I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. The excitement seemed out of proportion to the smallness of the gift. I had received plenty of swag from previous employers, but this one felt different.
It wasn’t just the tumbler; it was the words in the letter appreciating my role on the team and my care for patients. My boss took the time out of his busy day to write on paper and reflect on my contributions to the company. It was all the moments leading up to the letter’s opening where I knew he had my back and would help me practice medicine without selling its soul. His daily actions made our team and our company live up to its mission, vision, and values. It was his comforting words when I lost a patient, knowing how close we get to our patients in the concierge medicine model. It was our quarterly meeting where he had each of us share something personal, and he mentioned a detail I shared months later, affirming that he truly listens. Knowing that I am recognized for my many roles: physician, mother, and friend. It was the recognition that I am a human striving to be better, but surely not perfect.
In medicine, where monolithic hospital systems dominate, one feels like a face in the crowd, walking into my clinic and seeing my small work family makes me feel at home. It’s a sigh of relief to know that we’re all working towards the same goal of delivering the best possible care and helping our patients live their best lives. And now, sipping on my new tumbler filled with hot tea, I forge ahead in my busy day doing what I love and am grateful to have a boss who cares so deeply.
Poonam Merai is an internal medicine physician.