Doctors serve the people not the system

Most health care professionals went into the field because of a calling. For many of us, it is not just a career but a sense of mission. While the system drives hoards to the brink and over the edge of burn-out, a sense of purpose remains. The goals are not the same for all, but it is a good time to re-examine our life goals.

Being a doctor, or any professional in the medical setting, we are duty bound to care for patients. This basic goal often becomes murky in the fog of third-party and political agendas. Our mission should always include a sense of doing the best for our patients and optimizing clinical outcomes. Everything else comes secondary: profits, work/lief balance, professional aspirations or anything that might come between us and our primary mission. If we find anything standing in our way to providing patients with the best medical care, we should try yo remove these obstacles to the best of our abilities. These obstacles can come in many forms: insurance companies, regulations, over-zealous CEOs and many others. And this is the point where many of us catch fire; many of these barriers are insurmountable.

Not all of us can be grassroots activists, but we should all be raising our voices where we see injustices occur. If a patient truly needs a medication — fight for it and ask them to do so. If you have time, support those who are activists; it is often a lonely war and the more support, the better.

“Mission” doesn’t mean we need to travel to impoverished countries and serve the poor. We can try to make changes right where we sit to see that poor people are taken care of. We may not agree with the politics, but the truth remains that it is the politicians who are driving the changes happening in the health care system. We need to educate ourselves. But if we are so-called to travel on a mission, we should make plans to do so. There are many organizations currently seeking volunteers. Don’t just sit waiting for the opportune time to realize this calling — there will never be an opportune time. And the reality is: Once you go on your first medical mission, you will find a chance to go on others because the work is so rewarding.

Patients are in need of advocates like never before. There are so many groups out there advocating. Find a cause you are passionate about and lend a voice. You don’t need to volunteer hours of your life; just tweeting about a cause can spread it far. A little can go a long way and can remind you of your underlying mission.

There are so many people out there hurting and in need. In our current world of prior authorizations and denied care, it is easy to get caught up in the frustrations of the system and lose our purpose. Our patients depend on us to remember it. They need us. As 2017 rolls out, our mission should be rolled out as well, and we remind ourselves why we became doctors. We are not serving a system but rather individuals. Every single one of them deserves our best, no matter what road we decide to follow in our medical journeys. Where are you headed in 2017?

Linda Girgis is a family physician who blogs at Dr. Linda.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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