There is a financial pressure to see a lot of patients in a day. Seeing patients equals revenue. Revenue equals a paycheck for me and everyone else that I employ. It also feeds the giant corporate machine to which I now belong. In all honesty, I haven’t felt specific pressure from the corporate machine because for now, I am flying under the radar. Plus they are nonprofit. At least on paper.
I know that this reprieve won’t last for long. We recently changed computer systems, which if I were a few years older, probably would have forced me into retirement. It was one of the hardest transitions I have ever endured. Everything feels like a fight. There is no one accountable when things go south. You have to talk to a half dozen people just to get to someone who knows WTF you are talking about.
When I print a prescription, it is going to a Pediatricians office in another city. Why can’t you fix my printer? Why can’t my computer print to my printer in my office? That took like 3 weeks. Not joking.
For now, they are not giving me too much shit, because they know somewhere in their corporate brains that they can’t push us too much. Not yet. Not until we get our footing with this system. With being part of a big machine. With trying not to lose our humanity.
I had a conversation with another provider recently who said one of their partners saw more than 50 people a day.
This. Would. Kill. Me.
I seriously contemplated the enormity of this. My first thought was -Jeez, I must suck, I feel overwhelmed when I see 25. What’s wrong with me? What am I doing wrong? Then, I wondered how they weren’t screwing everything up, missing parts in the chart, forgetting to send someone for a mammogram, misdiagnosing a disease because they were in a rush, working on their charts into the wee hours of the night. If that’s what it takes to stay in this business, to make money, to be a doctor, count me out. I’ll just be poor. Debt-ridden. And happy.
Who once said and I paraphrase, If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life? This work is a labor of love. I don’t see dollar signs when I look at these people. I see mothers, fathers, factory workers, waitresses, broken hearts, fear, perseverance, despair. I see resilience, faith, trust, joy, prosperity, and forgiveness. I see healing.
I learn their stories. I want to learn their stories. That’s why I feel overwhelmed when 25 people come through my rooms. I can’t give all of them my attention. I can’t learn their stories. Oh, I could see a hundred people in a day. Line them up like an assembly line. Dole out the antibiotics. Gloss over their questions. Send them for tests. Refer them out to someone else to deal with. Run ’em through like cattle. I can’t be that kind of doctor. I won’t be that kind of doctor.
If you listen carefully enough, the patient will tell you what’s wrong with them. The diagnosis will be given to you. The patient will tell you. If you just listen.
If you are my patient and I don’t know that your dog died last month, or that your grandson has been deployed, that your daughter is getting married, or that you got that job you wanted, then I am not doing my job right. If I am not listening to your stories, how will I ever find out what ails you?