Fam Pract Manag. 1999 Sep;06(8):13.
To the Editor:
I joined a rural family practice group about 20 years ago. We practiced full-scope medicine and felt like we were the doctors for the entire community. I also worked with residents and students.
A couple years ago, the package began to unravel. On the verge of financial collapse, our practice was taken over by the local hospital. They had a very different agenda than we did, and they restructured the practice. Our patient loads were diluted, and our roles in both the hospital and the community were greatly diminished.
At first, all of this was very difficult to swallow. I certainly battled my share of frustration and emotional fatigue. Sometimes we felt so drained by operational problems that it seemed we didn't have enough energy left for compassion on the clinical front.
Since then, I have found joy in being able to accept my new role, although modified, and I try to focus more on my life outside of medicine, such as family time and hobbies. I realized that, despite all of the negativity in medicine, I still take pleasure in the basic idea of helping people and in the occasional opportunity to teach. I'll continue to see whatever patients I am asked to, try to overlook the things that frustrate me and concentrate on the aspects of medicine I still enjoy.
Most of all, I am comforted by the fact that no matter what happens in the future — even if I had to give it all up tomorrow — I can always look back with pleasure at all of the wonderful years I did have. And that can never be taken away from me!
Editor's note: This letter was in response to the article in our June 1999 issue by John-Henry Pfifferling, PhD, and Kay Gilley, MS, “Putting ‘Life’ Back Into Your Professional Life.” The article asked, “What has helped you to recapture the joy of family practice?”
Copyright © 1999 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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