Doctors need to fall back in love with medicine. Here’s how to do it.

If you are a doctor, everywhere you hear or read about all that is wrong in medicine.  Please do not get me wrong, the medical profession is under assault.  Change is occurring all around us, and much of it has the potential to be disastrous to not only us and our families, but more importantly to our patients.  For many of us in the profession, we feel helpless.  We feel as though everything we have worked for and dreamed about for as long as we could remember is being taken away.

Yes, times are tough in medicine, and though no one can predict our future, we can create our future.  We are not powerless.  We have all heard, with great change comes great opportunity.  This is as true today as it has ever been.  We just need to start looking for it in the right places, and it is my opinion we need to stop trying to resist change and welcome it.

The first thing we need to do is fall back in love with medicine.  We need to go back to our age of innocence when all we wanted to do was serve people.  That is where the salvation of our calling to improve the lives of the people we care for exists.

1. Find your graduation picture form high school or college and look into the eyes of that person and try and remember what it felt like to feel you were special. To believe that God has a plan for you to save lives.  You were going to cure illnesses, and your patients were going to just adore you.

2. Stop reading, watching and listening to the news. OK, I realize that may sound extreme, but we all know the saying “if it bleeds it leads.”  The news is full of doom and gloom.  Terrorism, the economy, politics, race relations, and crime just to name a few.  Most of which we have no control over.  I realize it is important to be aware of current events, but try to limit your news content to under 10 minutes a day.

3. Reconnect with people who are important to you. Don’t just be in the same house or same room, actually, be present.  That means put away your phone, stop checking Facebook, your email, and texts every 2 seconds and enjoy that movie or soccer game.

4. Take better care of yourself. Eat healthier, stop smoking, exercise regularly and get a good night’s rest.  I struggle with these issues myself, especially the diet and exercise part.  Remember you do not have to change all of this overnight.  Pick one of them to improve on.

5. Avoid the doctor’s lounge. OK, here I go again with extreme advice. What I mean is, stay away from places where the topic of conversation is complaining about our malpractice woes, Obamacare, reimbursement cuts, meaningful use, electronic health records, HIPAA or whatever the “medicine is doomed” topic of the day is at your particular facility. Find like-minded colleagues who are willing to adapt and take the steps needed to protect our patients from becoming collateral damage as the overall health care pie get smaller, and the portions get redistributed.

6. Most importantly, take responsibility for your practice. If your practice is growing, provides stellar care to your patients, is profitable and allows you to provide for your family and make a difference in your community it is because you are doing something right.  But for many physicians, this is not the case, and they must recognize the self-imposed limits they have in place which are stifling the growth of their practice. Unless they are willing to acknowledge responsibility they will continue to resent how our profession is evolving and be miserable.

The time for excuses is over.  We must stop blaming the government, the Democrats, the Republicans, big pharma, insurance companies, our hospital administrators and our patients for all that is wrong.  Most of us have been high achievers and extremely competitive our entire lives.  We are the people who conquered organic chemistry and calculus in college, we got through the extremely selective process of getting into medical school, we fought for and were awarded the most sought after residency slots across the country, we thrive in high-stress situations and we know what it is like to care for patients for 36 hours’ straight without sleep or food.  We got this!

There will be some of you who will want to post a comment to this blog about how crazy all of this sounds and how medicine is doomed.  I urge you to resist that temptation.  The internet is already full of that commentary and to be honest, I think you are part of the problem.  Our patients need us now more than they ever have, so do your colleagues, and so does your family.  It is time to wake up my friends and stop reminiscing about the “golden era” of medicine.  It is time to create our future.

John Gonzalez is a urogynecology physician who blogs at LiberatedMD.

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