Every time I get ready to actually go practice medicine in my community health clinic, it is a struggle to get myself to go out the door.
“I hate clinic,” my mind tells me in the morning as I take a shower. “I don’t want to go to clinic today.”
Much of my mind’s complaints are centered around how slow it is, how much I dislike all the charting.
“I hate our electronic medical record.”
I actually surprised myself by growing to like doctoring back in the days of the paper charts, when I would be done at the end of the day, and my mind was at peace. EMRs take me about twice or more as long to complete for each note. They’re designed for billing, not patient care. My charting work never ends.
“I like my patients,” I try reminding myself. “Today I have the privilege of supporting people in being healthier.” This helps me get out the door. Because this is true too. I enjoy talking with patients, and believe that our encounters are healing.
A decade’s worth of experience working with a socio-economically stressed patient population has taught me to recognize patterns of illness. A gazillion medical complaints? Screen for depression. Pain everywhere? Screen for sexual abuse. An otherwise healthy 27 year old male who shows up for “a checkup”? Screen for STDs.
I have my good days and my bad days. My good patient encounters and my not so good.
“It will be okay,” I tell myself, as I pull on my shoes and sip my coffee out of the travel mug that a homeless patient gave to me–from the hospital I had to send him to for jaw surgery after he got jumped on his way to clinic.
My patients come to me with diabetes, hypertension, obesity. They come to me with foreclosure, and abuse, and sons killed by senseless gun violence.
They come to me with the pain and sequelae of life. And I do what I can, and advise them to exercise, drink water and eat their vegetables.