To the Editor:
I can fully relate to “Choosing Between Clinical Practice and Administration” [January 2003, page 39] by Dr. Carrie Nankervis. I am a residency-trained and board-eligible preventive medicine physician who pursued this specialty because I desired to practice medicine based on science and not solely on “what worked in the past.” But to accomplish this, one is often led to an administrative position.
But I, too, loved direct patient care, so I became board-certified in family practice. I immersed myself in clinical practice so much that I literally burned out. I love my patients and my patients love me back, but this healthy relationship became pathologic because I failed to spend quality time alone and with others who were just as important to me as my patients. I have since returned to the saner world of preventive medicine. Here I can maintain the balance to complete life’s necessary daily activities.
These stories highlight several things. First, physicians need to admit we are humans with basic needs like sleeping, eating, paying our bills on time, raising our children, strengthening our marriages, etc. We are not machines; we cannot go non-stop. Second, our brains are not computers and we cannot hold every byte of information forced into them. We need the help of other health care professionals and technology to improve the delivery of care.
We as a profession need to rethink how we “raise” physicians; we need doctors who are healthy and well-balanced, not impaired either psychosocially or physically.