This is a sample section from a new book I’m writing on the transition from residency to practice.
When you die:
A) The house of medicine will collapse, and only recover by remembering your compassion and sacrifice.
B) Patients and staff will wail in sack-cloth and ashes
C) Someone may name a procedure or drug in your honor
D) People will walk over your dead body, take your vacant day-shifts and go through your pockets for change.
The answer is D. Although I’m using some hyperbole, the point is that when you die, some people will be sad; your loved ones will miss you. But life will go on. The hospital will not close, and the sick will not stop being sick. So conduct your life with this in mind. Medicine, for all it’s wonder and value, must not be a rock on which you wreck yourself. Let it enhance, not overwhelm, your life.
Do not allow medicine to be the reason you live, or the thing by which you invariably and solely define yourself. Let it make you more human and more Godly, more wise, more loving and capable. Let it insinuate you into the lives of the suffering, to bring them help and comfort. Let it make you proud, and serve as an example of caring and hard work to your children and students. Let the money you make improve your family’s plight, allow you to travel, enjoy time together, be healthy and educated.
But NEVER sacrifice your joy, or your family, on the altar of medicine. And never let medicine be the reason you live. It will never be enough. If you meet an angry doctor, remember that in all likelihood, he or she believed medicine was enough.
And they found out, too late, that they were wrong.
*This blog post was originally published at edwinleap.com*