Why I miss practicing medicine

I recently left medical practice in order to pursue a career in mobile health technologies, for which I have had a passion for many years. I had wanted to become a physician since I was very young.  The intellectual challenge and curiosities of the natural science and the human body stirred my intellect like nothing else.

What I will surely miss most are the priceless personal interactions I experienced on a daily basis. I spent most of my days in the hospital. I will miss the janitorial and food service workers with whom I would have chats ranging from the weather to their families. I will miss the therapists (physical, respiratory, occupational, and others) who I encountered when seeing my patients. I will remember fondly the talks with nurses asking how a certain patient was doing when I arrived on the floor to make follow-up rounds after procedures, or listening to the gallows humor in the middle of the night when in the hospital after seeing a patient in the ER or a consultation on the floor.

The camaraderie among hospital workers is unique, and one that many will attest to as being as important as family.  I have shared profound experiences involving patients with them.  They were there when my children were born.  They saw me on good days and bad.  The mission of delivery of good patient care bound us together.  The unspoken sentiments exchanged with a team of people after a life is saved or some other intense satisfying or disappointing are indelible.  I will miss my professional colleagues whose advice I took and who entrusted me with caring for their patients.

As many of us move from one phase of life to another, we have mixed feelings about the process.  The good ones are invariably linked to people who have added to our lives in both small and significant meaningful ways.  The bad ones tied to what amount to ‘the small stuff’ we needlessly sweated over.  Medicine is moving towards a patient-centric model.  However, the myriad of persons involved in the care of those patients is a culture of dedication, teamwork, and human kindness that I will always treasure and hope is never underappreciated by anyone.

I will certainly miss caring for and helping patients and their families.  There is no substitution for the thousands of sincere “thank you” comments or cards. I cried many times in my career, both in joy and sadness.  But none as deep as when I said good bye to the people who knew me best and who most shaped who I was … the unsung hospital workers on all levels.

David Lee Scher is a former cardiologist and a consultant at DLS Healthcare Consulting, LLC.  He blogs at his self-titled site, David Lee Scher, MD.

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